Archive for the 'T11' Category

Secrets you can’t find on the Internet

There are some secrets you can still only learn in person.

The technological advancements of the last twenty years have made it easier than ever to connect with magicians from around around the globe. Thanks to Internet magic dealers, web communities and Youtube.com, you can begin an  effective apprenticeship in magic without ever stepping foot inside a genuine retail magic store.

And that’s a shame, because even in the information age, you still need access to a real magic store if you want to become a great magician.

 

denny and me

Denny Haney: Backstage with me last week at The Magic Castle

The first night I walked into the Denny & Lee Magic Studio, I didn’t leave until four am. In that store I met the real pros and heard their real stories about life in  magic. Thanks in large part to Denny and his shop, I found a career in magic. 

 

If you want to be a great magician – find a real magic shop

There are guys out there who can paint the oral history of magic for you like no book can. They can tell you the real stories behind the names and faces you find in the books on the shelves.

For the most part, the real old timers aren’t with us anymore. But luckily, most of them had students and friends – magicians who’ve heard the tales and love to share them.

Most of these guys don’t blog. And they don’t hang out on  the magic cafe. The only way to find these magicians is to go to the clubhouse – the magic shop. If you go in and hang out long enough, you’ll eventually bump into people who can show you the mysteries you seek.

Find your store! 

But first you have to find a magic store. And not just any magic store will do. To take advantage of the advice in this post, you’ll need a great magic store. And in the age of the Internet, real shops with good stock and a solid sense of community can be hard to find. In fact, most of you will have to travel some distance to find a shop you can count on.  

Below follows a list of my three favorite magic stores in the country. I’ve listed one on each coast and another in the center of the country

Pick any one of these stores and become a genuine, in store customer. In the process, you may find more than a shop – you just might find a community where you belong. 

Each on of these shops has a strong web presence. But remember, for optimum results, you’ll have to walk through the front door. 

Many readers submitted info on their favorite shops – you can read their comments here.

Three Great Shops

Denny & Lee Magic Studio

Midwest Magic

Grand Illusions

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Theory11, my new trick Panic and why you should care.

Panic Box

As many of you may already know, my new trick ‘PANIC!’ was unveiled last Friday night at Theory11.com. I’m exceedingly proud of the trick, so before you read further, go and watch the video so you have a frame of reference. Then come back for a discussion about the trick, and my thoughts as to why Theory11 may represent an important shift in the quality of magic education.

WATCH PANIC PERFORMED LIVE RIGHT NOW.

Panic easily stands as my most significant release since The Paper Engine was published in 2002. The DVD is beautifully produced, both in terms of the packaging and the contents. More importantly, Panic may be the most commercial effect I’ve ever put out. In this case, commercial doesn’t mean merely ‘effective as a magic product’, though that’s certainly true as well. Rather, the piece demonstrates clearly how real world performing experience can lead to simpler, more efficient magic. It’s the most powerful effect I’ve ever shared with the community – I wanted the teaching on the DVD to be as effective as the trick itself.

For that reason, I’ve been forced to ask the same question as everyone else. What exactly is Theory 11.com? And the truth is – I’m not entirely sure. We can all see the site involves a bunch of talented guys with real passion and serious ideas about magic. But for me personally, T11 represents a mysterious, exciting experiment.

How things will evolve I can’t truly say, because what’s being attempted here hasn’t been really tried before. Sure, several companies in the last few years have had great success selling magic tricks. Some of these companies have even sold quality material. But now, serious magicians are trying to discover whether this internet technology, so effective for business, can also be used to actually improve magic and the quality of its practitioners. For that reason, I find this whole process thrilling. Several of the players are my heroes – members of the real A team. And finally, they’re not just sitting around complaining about the state of things. They’ve stepped inside in the ring, reputations on the line, attempting to affect real change in the field we all care so deeply about.

 

One Piece at a Time – Details make the Magic

Panic Freak Out

 

As any experienced magic student will tell you, it takes an awful lot of work to find good material, to separate the wheat from the chaff. Companies sell tricks, ideas, methods and variations by the pound. If the student assumes he’s receiving a giant tomb of brand new, quality material, he will likely find himself disappointed. Many magic creators have great ideas, but find themselves under pressure, often self imposed, to release a greater percentage of their output than perhaps they ought to. I don’t exclude myself from this criticism. As many great comedians have noted, to write three good jokes, a good writer might reasonably pump out 97 others that never see the light of day. Perhaps we in magic should more often work toward this exacting standard.

 

 

Like other recent, successful companies in our industry, the gang at T11 has discovered that the current crop of young magicians responds well to ‘single item’ releases. Many magic students today would rather learn one astounding effect in a focused way – rather then spend valuable time sifting through some guy’s dairy from the month before. We all get exposed to so many ideas every day, perhaps we’re trying to make careful choices about what we invest our time in. The alternative might be to crumble under the weight of the knowledge work incumbent in the information age.

 

Some will complain that it’s a mistake to hold back the countless variations we love so much. These passionate students might argue that the sheer volume of ideas presented by one such as Ed Marlo (even excluding disputed ones) allows sleight of hand students to better appreciate the depth of the possibilities presented to us when we work with cards.

Panic Logo

Frankly, I sympathize with this romantic point of view. But then I think about the resonance we find in the work of Vernon. Much of his magic was described somewhat poorly by Lewis Ganson, yet his work remains iconic. It seems his decision to present only one or two solutions to a given problem actually worked. People got the message – do all the research, and then release the very best solution you can. At least partly for this reason, his small books on card magic stand out as some of the century’s finest volumes, regardless of their diminutive size.

 

Almost all of us can agree that magicians have access to plenty of material already. We further likely agree that the key to improving our work lies in developing fully the material we already have access to – not in the acquisition of more tricks.

Girls watching

 

In this regard, the ‘single item’ release model can conceivably help us all. To communicate magic lessons effectively requires patience, a slow hand and a long time. Too often, magic creators present their ideas quickly and use a ‘bare bones’ approach. That only makes sense – they’re presenting so many ideas that anyone would have trouble packing them all in. The student often comes away having witnessed twenty ideas, but finds himself later confused when he can’t make even the simplest version play as well as he hoped.

 

Ideally, when you release one piece at a time, you force yourself to choose your best item. Now you’ve got a piece worth teaching, your task comes into focus – to communicate every nuance of the effect, presentation and handling. Now, the student can gain enough confidence from your instruction to take the effect out of the basement and into the world. Of course, from this first step, the student gains only more questions. Hopefully, if you’ve done the job correctly, his dawning concerns have been anticipated. He can go back to the source, and find all the information he needs.

As of this writing, I am happy to report that Theory 11 supports these values. They not only wanted to release my trick, but they were more than supportive in allowing me to teach my magic the best way I know how. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t have chosen to work with them.

 

All over the world, passionate, thoughtful people care about improving the quality of magic performance. For anyone who shares these values, the emergence of T11 holds wonderful promise. Finally, we might be a getting closer to a viable model for teaching magic in the 21st century – modern technology, combined with detailed lessons, taught by people who actually know.

 

I’m sure many of you will have ideas related to these issues. First, make sure to go and watch the demo of Panic and check out Theory11. Even though the site just launched, you’ll find plenty of ideas to explore. Then drop a comment here, or on T11’s new forum or both. It’s useful to write down your ideas. Not only will it help you clarify your own thoughts and beliefs – it will help people like me deliver content you can use. If we can really understand each others ideas, then everyone creates better magic.

Gratefully,

Aaron Fisher