Practicing in public spaces

Discussion in 'Magic Forum' started by ncaron, Jan 4, 2018.

  1. Hello,

    I am a relatively new hobbyist and was wondering about the "ethics" (for lack of a better word) of practicing moves / skills in public spaces.

    I have a long comute to work and love the idea of using that time to practice some things but at the same time I am concerned about exposing laymen to some of the moves involved in card magic.

  2. No one will really realize what you're doing if you practice sleights in public. I do it all the time. You likely wouldn't be really exposing anything as no one would know what you're doing and what it can be used for. If they see you fiddling with cards, they might ask if you're a magician.
    RealityOne and ParkinT like this.
  3. I don't think it's an ethical issue at all. Theatrical, maybe, but not ethics.

    I personally do not practice moves in public. If you are a performer, and you're out in public, you're not practicing, you're performing (possibly poorly). Most people will ignore you, yes. Probably no one will think more than, "Huh, that guy's messing with cards. Wonder if he's a magician." However, there will be those that watch. And if you do the same sleight 8 times in a row, you're exposing that sleight to them, unless you do it perfectly every time.

    Furthermore, the human mind benefits most from dedicated, focused practice. It is good to also practice with distractions around to prepare for a more realistic environment, but for skill building you need to be putting all your focus on what you're doing. Otherwise you develop muddy pathways in your brain. You can't really get that kind of focus if you're worried about catching your stop or whether the creeper behind you is going to do something weird.

    I specified moves - I do practice lines in public frequently. There's a bit of a running gag between myself and my friend Danny that a performer can't have a conversation without practicing jokes and lines. I find that to be true. I hone joke delivery in conversations, and I practice coming up with witty responses to unexpected situations as well. My wife teases me occasionally when she can tell I'm doing it.
  4. I have a deck of cards in my hands almost constantly. It is true that most people are unaware of exactly what you are doing, if they notice you. But, many times someone will approach me and ask, "do you know any magic?" or something similar. So be prepared to 'show' something.
    And this brings to mind an amusing incident:
    I was waiting for my Latte, in a busy Starbucks, the other day and felt a bit self-conscious about 'fiddling' with my cards. Honestly, because I was just not in the mood to perform; on the chance someone would ask.
    What I found noteworthy, on this Saturday morning, was that absolutely EVERYONE (of the ten or so people) had their face buried in a smartphone.

    Perhaps a sad commentary of our current culture. I could have been juggling flaming swords and no one would know - unless they felt the heat from the fires!
    BasB, Lord Magic, CWhite and 2 others like this.
  5. Ha. In my experience, fire is the easiest way to get someone's attention. Trust me, I used to clear performance spaces at ren fairs by breathing fire.
    ParkinT likes this.
  6. Haha that's awesome.
  7. Why not take the time to read a magic book and expand your knowledge, and then practice later in the day at home? You can download a book like the Royal Road onto your phone and read through a section and be ready to practice when you get home!
    BasB and Antonio Diavolo like this.
  8. Also doing that... just that sometimes I am not in a "reading mood" and use my comute to listen to one of the 372 podcasts I follow...
  9. Also, I find that to get the most benefits out of books like Royal Road you have to read with a deck in your hands... helps me a lot to understand the nuances of what they explain.
  10. That's fine. I agree with that too. I just find it helpful to read through it a couple times prior to taking a deck, so I actually know what my hands should be doing.

    Public is just not a super controlled environment, and it'll be weird to practice. 1 thing you can do though is practice palms. Get a coin or card in palm and just hold it there for a while.
    BasB and Antonio Diavolo like this.
  11. This.

    Learning from books means you have to understand what you should be doing and have an idea of the overall method before you even start practicing it. That's why so many people recommend books to those who want to get really involved with magic. When you learn from a book, you're forced to have already gone over the information in your head several times before you even start to do it physically.
    BasB, Maaz Hasan and Antonio Diavolo like this.
  12. Or maybe different people learn in slightly different ways...

    Maybe it has to do with english being my second language (and also suffering from a slight attention deficit disorder) but, I find that by only reading the text I sometimes have problems to really "get" what is meant by the description. With a deck of cards in my hands I can mimic the instruction and everything becomes super clear. THEN after going through the motions a few times, I go back to reading it all over from scratch again to catch the subtleties.
    Antonio Diavolo and ParkinT like this.
  13. I like to read over it a few times and then start trying the moves myself. So when I am learning from a book, I do like to have the necessary prop (cards, coins, etc.) in my hand.
  14. Practice in the public freely...but check out what exactly the law and culture of the place you live in thinks about fiddling with cards :)
    As for coins and stuff, do whatever you want.
    And if you don't want people to catch you doing that (dunno why you wouldn't want that, but just saying) you can vanish those things right? Good way to practice palming and vanishing, vanish a whole deck if a policeman confronts you...
    Antonio Diavolo likes this.

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