An Approach to Learning Sleights

By Andi Gladwin - Sunday, October 18, 2020


If you're new to sleight of hand, you're likely excited to whip through Royal Road to Card Magic and Card College as quickly as possible in order to get to grips with every move there is: the Classic Pass, then the Dribble Pass, then onto Charlie Miller Cascade Control before continuing with a Second Deal and a Bottom Deal. There's so much to learn and only so much time to learn it all in!

I have a different point of view though. I take a single sleight and I work on it for a good few months. This gives me time to explore lots of descriptions on the move and ask lots of magicians for feedback and criticism. Most importantly, it allows me to concentrate and focus my practice sessions better than if I'm trying to learn too much at once. Instead of just aimlessly playing with a deck whenever I have one in my hands, I'm now able to work on "the move" and see it improve as I work on it. In my Astonishing Essay, Focussing on Magic, I wrote about the advantages of making a "study" of a move or routine and I find that this is a useful way of doing just that.

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Once I am starting to get proficient with the move, I tend to research tricks that utilise it and then start playing around with my own ideas too. I think of this as the Royal Road to Card Magic approach; learn a move and then learn some applications. I think this is perhaps most evident in my Master Pushoff where I took the idea of doing a double pushoff and explored it from every angle, and found and created tricks that best utilised the move.

If you've got a lifetime in magic ahead of you, I think this will be the best long term approach for learning magic effectively. Slow down, focus, experiment and enjoy. The end result will be an arsenal of effective, perfected moves as opposed to a large repertoire of poorly practiced and ill-used moves.


Reader comments:

Matthew

Monday, 19 October 2020 17:43 PM - Reply to this comment

When I first got into card magic, Pinky Counts and Passes just did not agree with my fingers.. When I naturally dropped magic out of high school, I still thought about it from time to time, and if I had a deck nearby, I would spend a couple seconds and just try, then continue on with whatever my task was at hand.

About 4yrs and a worldwide Plague later, I spent 3 days on my Pinky Counts and Passes and it was as if I magically figured out how to do them (adequately.)

And also Kim Andersen released a cheeky download called The BDSM Card Control, and I was feeling cocky and bought it -- then I watched the tutorial and was like "yeahhh.... Nope."

I put it aside for 2 months, but always kept it in my mind, then I spent all day yesterday with it before the Williamson Masterclass went live, and I actually got the technical aspects of it down!

I love the idea of just letting things slow-cook in the mind through meditation and visualization and I think there's no difference between having Writer's Block as a writer and Sleighters(???) Block as a magician.

Sit back, meditate and pick up something else, while also keeping things in the back of your mind -- and when you're ready, return and try again. There is no rush.

Peter Turner's Isabella Star (mentalism) routine is another highly difficult thing for me to get down in terms of process and brain power, but I have faith that by not worrying too much about it now, it will actually benefit me to return back to it with confidence.

Aakarsh

Tuesday, 20 October 2020 16:07 PM - Reply to this comment

I totally agree with Andi. Knowing what and why you are practicing is very important. Else we will reach nowhere. Thanks for this blog. It was a reassurance.

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