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I learned my first trick when I was nine. It was during the pre-Internet era—which means it was some time ago. In today’s IPhone, laptop, LED TV and 3D movie age, the time the magic bug bit me was equivalent to the Jurassic age.
My problem was how to add new tricks to my repertoire in the face of the dearth of material available then. After learning my first card trick, it took me a couple of years to learn my second trick. I had no books, videos or e-books to turn to. I lived in the province, so I had no access to public libraries.
I had not met a single, living, practicing magician to consult or exchange ideas with. There were no online forums or magic organizations to help me answer questions about performing magic. There were not even magic shops, near or far, where I could buy magic literature or supplies. I searched diligently, but I couldn’t find libraries that had magic books in their shelves. There was nowhere to buy even the most basic magic supplies like the thumb tip. I didn’t get one until I had spent many years as student of magic.
Those inadequacies of the time marooned me for a long time in the beginner’s status in my study of magic. It was only when I migrated to Manila that I got access to books and videos and to magic supplies. When at last the Internet came, I became a beneficiary of the information explosion, just like every person in all fields of study on this planet. I felt like a sponge absorbing all the knowledge, which until now were hidden from me.
Still, despite all the resources suddenly accessible today, I didn’t learn more new tricks. The challenge seems to persist. Whereas before the problem was the dearth of material, today’s problem is choosing the right tricks from out of the plethora of tricks out there. It seems learning tricks when there is scarcity of material is as difficult as learning them when there is super abundance of resources. No wonder even today, adding new tricks to my repertoire remains to be a constant struggle.
If you experience the same difficulties in expanding your repertoire, here’s some organizational techniques to overcome them:
1. List 5 tricks you want most to learn. With the abundance of tricks available out there, and with the profusion of new tricks being introduced in the market, you will be hard put to learn them all. The truth is, you can’t learn them all. So choose only five tricks to learn at a time.
2. Prioritize your list. That is an advice you will learn in the corporate world. Pardon the expression, because it tells a helpful truth.
Organize your list so that you put on top of it the trick you want to learn most. Five tricks are one trick too many to learn at the same time. Identify the trick you want to learn first out of the five on your list, then learn them in their order of priority.
3. Learn one trick at a time. This sounds like common sense, but many magicians, including me, don’t use our common sense when trying to learn new tricks. We get enamored by the trick, which detracts us from our goal of learning it. As a result, we usually play with the props, practice the sleights required while watching television, fool around with the routine, and then when we get bored with it, we play with the props of the OTHER tricks, practice the sleights they require, and fool around with it.
It’s like shadow boxing. You accomplish very little for spending inordinate time on something. The result? You never learn any trick well enough to perform them in public.
The better route is to study one trick and never touch (or be interested in) another until the one you are trying to learn is learned. Let the other tricks wait until you can perform the one on top of your list.
If it is an easy trick, you may want to spend just an hour a day learning it. If it requires knuckle-busting, you may want to spend more hours on it, say, two to three hours a day.
How much time to spend on a trick is something only you can decide. Some people are fast-learners, some are slow. You should know which type of learner you are. If you don’t, pay close attention to yourself.
5. Give yourself a deadline. Set a definite timetable for learning a trick, whether it is difficult or easy to learn. You can’t spend forever learning a trick. No trick deserves your squandering your youth on it. If it’s so difficult you have to spend months on it, find some other less challenging tricks.
Go ahead, rummage through your drawer for all those tricks that have lain there. If you find no energy to learn them all (who does?), learn them one trick at a time. It’s much easier that way than learning them all at once.
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