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.
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.
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