Can't understand books?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Aaron.morris, Jan 17, 2018.

  1. what do you do when you see a slight or a trick in a book, and you can't understand how to do it? Im pretty new to magic and i've bought a few books (royal road, expert at the card table, encyclopedia of card tricks, card control, and expert card technique) but sometimes I can't understand what it's saying.
  2. Read it again. And again.

    And again.

    Sometimes it helps to have the prop in hand to give you a visual of what it looks like.

    Sometimes it helps to find a video of someone doing the move (Not teaching necessarily, just doing it).

    Sometimes it helps to have the prop in hand, and do the move or trick sentence by sentence, not moving on to the next step until you've got an idea of what is supposed to be happening.

    When I learned the Erdnase One Handed Shift, I read the passage in the book a dozen times. Didn't quite make sense. So I grabbed a deck and put my fingers exactly where it said, and I started to get an idea of it. I looked up a video of someone doing the move, read the passage a couple more times, and it clicked. Then I did it until I got a blister on my finger.
  3. Aaron:

    The books you have were written a while ago. For example, Expert at the Card Table was written in 1902, Expert Card Technique in 1940 and Royal Road in 1951. They are sometimes difficult to understand, there are some mistakes in the descriptions and sometimes the drawings don't reflect the written instructions. So you are not alone. Expert at the Card Table is a particularly difficult read for a beginner.

    The difficulty of learning some of the material is why I recommend the Card College series. It has much better illustrations and the writing is easier to understand.

    However, you can learn from the books you have. Start at the beginning of Royal Road. There will be some terms you will have to look up (like phalanx which is the singular of phalanges which refer to the segments of bone in the each finger).

    To learn from a book, I take the following steps:

    1. Read through what you are trying to learn with a focus on what the sleight does and what it looks like to the spectators.

    2. Read through a second time, trying to visualize what you need to do when performing the sleight.

    3. Read through a third time with a deck in your hands, walking through the steps slowly. Repeat until you can recite the checkpoints from memory (left index finger here, right thumb here, this finger moves this way, the deck does this).

    4. Begin practicing the move while reciting the checkpoints. Repeat until the move becomes pretty natural.

    5. Reread the section without a deck in your hands to make sure you are doing what they are saying to do. You will be amazed how often the description makes more sense after you have tried to do the move.

    6. Adjust you checkpoints accordingly and begin practicing the move until you can perform it without reciting the checkpoints.

    Finally, always feel free to post questions about specific sleights and what problem you are having. We typically can figure out what you are doing wrong from a description of the problem but we may need a video.

    Good luck!

    4. Repeat step 3 until you are confident of what you are su
  4. I think we all have had trouble with Expert at the Card Table at some point. Follow Reality One’s suggestions. You will get there eventually. One thing I know that doesn’t work is throwing the book in anger at the wall. I’ve tried it a couple times. It will not improve your slights.
    Stu-pendous likes this.
  5. People question why I have an "indestructible" version.
    Antonio Diavolo and Maaz Hasan like this.
  6. I feel you. I have a terrible time learning from books. This is why i made sure to break everything down a best as possible with clear illustrations when writing my books. Not everyone can learn from books, myself being one of them lol
    RickEverhart likes this.
  7. I always have a deck in my hand when reading from a book and like they said above, I break it down line by the line and make sure I have the handling down as I read.
    Just yesterday I was working on the classic pass and was having an issue understand where my finger placement was supposed to be so I did YouTube it just to get an idea of where my hands are supposed to be and then I went back to the book.
    DominusDolorum likes this.
  8. I have learned techniques from Expert at the Card Table, practiced it for a while, then gone back to read again as a refresher only to discover I was practicing wrong! Sometime I find that I misunderstood the instructions and other times I develop a bad habit after practicing for a month or so. I would say the books are not a one time read. Go back to them again and again.
    RealityOne likes this.
  9. I have bought some of these books as recommendation, but I gotta say, a lot of what I learned I did so on videos because it seems far easier. I know a lot of poepl are gonna argue I'm doing wrong and blablabla but I don't really care. The audience doesn't seem to mind I'm not doing it the right way
  10. I won't repeat all of the great aforementioned advice as there is a ton of it above my post. I think a lot of it boils down to your learning style and method. What works best for you to get from point A to point B? It shouldn't matter to anyone else here what your style of learning is. Don't believe me? Try teaching 26 fourth grade students and after one hour tell me that all 26 of them processed my lesson the exact same way. I vary my approach when instructing. Some students are kinesthetic, some auditory, etc.
    Justin.Morris likes this.
  11. Great point.

    A long while back I purchased an ebook that had little 10-20 second video inserts throughout the text as well as diagrams. That was a really neat way to learn.
    RickEverhart likes this.
  12. I think that because you're pretty new to magic a couple of the books are a little complicated for a beginner. Like "Expert at the Card Table". For me, when I first started years ago books were complicated as well. DVD's were easier because it actually had someone explaining it with live visuals. But! No fear here. Like said above, just keep rereading the content and go by the pictures that are given to you.
  13. The video companion to Royal Road by Paul Wilson is a good help too.

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