Jim Writes: Right now I’m struggling to progress with my magicians training… I feel like I’ve hit a wall with the sleight of hand. I’m working on The Pass but I know people dedicate a lifetime to that and never feel they’ve mastered it…
I’m also struggling with sleight of hand vs. gimmicks. I know plenty of people use both, but what balance do you strike between the two?
Firstly.. Don’t sweat too much about the pass. It’s really just a time vampire, and doesn’t have a place in practical magicians training because it’s real world uses are nowhere near a match for the effort you will need to apply in mastering it. Most working magicians use alternative methods anyway. You can waste so much time on it and never really use is other than to show other magicians.. Fools gold.
If you feel that you are not making progress in your magicians training, it may be the result of working bottom up, rather than top down.
Bottom Up and Top Down Magicians Training
Imagine you were a cook preparing a meal. You wouldn’t go to the supermarket and choose a range of herbs and ingredients because you like them, and then try to build a menu out of it.. Instead, you would decide which dish you wanted to create, and only then, would you go out to buy the ingredients..
When a magician works ‘bottom up’, he is selecting individual moves and techniques to work on, then he tries to tie them together into magic effects and ultimately an act. This is the bottom up approach to magicians training.
A bottom up approach can be an endless process of study with no GOALS, and therefore no WINS. The alternative is to use a Top Down Approach. This involves studying magic with act creation in mind right from the beginning. You design a whole project, then search for the elements that will comprise it. ONLY learning the move and techniques required to create that ‘show’. The whole thing has a beginning, middle and an end… After you create one act, you can then set about designing a different act for another audience or setting.. And so it goes on…
I’ve written quite a bit about the sleight of hand Vs Gimmicks. (See the blog,) but I can condense it into just this… It doesn’t matter which you use..
The only important thing is the effect.. The presentation.. The show.
You need to choose the most deceptive method for the effects you want to perform. You should be problem solving, not trying to adapt..
Going back to the example of the cook.. Which tools should you have in your kitchen when you create your menu of dishes? It depends on what you want to cook right? Perhaps you’ll need a hand whisk? The recipe might call for an electric food mixer.. The method is not really important…
Obsessing about gimmicks Vs sleight of hand is not seeing the woods from the trees.. To your spectator, all methods should be invisible anyway. The spectators experience is the most important thing…
In your magicians training, you should use a mix of sleight of hand and gimmicks DEPENDING on which works best for each effect you want in your act. Choose your magic for the effect, not the required method..
Hope this helps you as you can throw away many years running down pointless rabbit holes if you don’t focus on the show BEFORE the techniques