Mark is new to magic and is learning sleight of hand. He is working on controls and sleights rather than tricks and effects..
Mark asks: 'I am new to card magic or any magic for that matter. I have been strictly working on my card handling with barely any work on tricks, just the occasional tricks to show to my kids. I really like working on controls, trying to get the card from middle to top and bottom but am struggling with most of them. What would be your recommendation of a control I should use or practice that is the most practical?'
It's great to hear that you are putting in so much work into your card skills. The results you get are directly proportional to the quality of magic practice you are prepared to do.
Sleight of hand and comic collecting
Did you read comics when you were a kid? I did, in fact, I still read the odd issue of The Walking Dead from time to time. I even collected a few titles when I was back in college. Some of my friends got really into it. They would buy every issue (sometimes two copies) and store them carefully inside a Mayar protective sleeve, with an acid free backing board to keep them in A1 condition. Those comics became 'investments' in their eyes, and they loved every moment of collecting.
There's a little problem with this that used to worry them. The paper in 20th century comics was CHEAP. It contained acid, which over time eats away at the paper. Even though they had done everything they could to keep their 'archive' away from conditions that would damage the paper, it was the ink and paper itself that would slowly fall apart and turn to dust over 20,40,50 years..
Learning sleight of hand as a collection of moves is a bit like comic collecting. When you build an archive of sleights they build up and get mastered over time. But as soon as you stop drilling them, they start to corrode.
Honestly ask yourself: How many of these moves will you remember in 10 years time?
The only techniques you will be able to remember and perform well, will be the ones you constantly perform.
Time destroys muscle memory. Without regular repetition, your controls and moves will degrade until you are disappointed with each one. You need constant performance to keep things fresh and remember all the mechanics. If you collect moves outside of performance pieces (tricks) to use them, you may end up like the old comic collector that goes up to his attic to find his stacked up boxes of comics are just filled with bags of paper dust.
Sleight of hand and painting
Studying just moves, controls and sleights endlessly is like a painter, spending years learning how to perfectly mix the oil paints to every shade of colour… They end up with a huge palette of paints, but no paintings….
Choose tricks and effects first, then MASTER the controls, moves and sleights you need to perform that effect. Now you have improved your skills with a goal at the end.
Which move should you learn next? Start researching effects that you can build into sets of tricks to form an act. Be REALLY selective. Pick tricks that amaze you, but that will also entertain an audience. They need to be perfect for the type of venue you will perform within, and the type of people that will also be there.
Once you have selected your tricks, start on just one, and work on the controls, moves, and sleight of hand that is required to fully master it. That's what I recommend you work on next.
But that doesn't answer my question!
OK.. lecture over.. If you really want a suggestion of a move or control to work on, you should make sure you master at least one variation of these:
The rest; the controls, shifts, placements and changes are just icing on the cake…