In February of 2014, Ben Salinas posted on his blog a practice deck idea he had been using for both coins and cards. When I read it, I had to try it. It was so simple that I can’t believe I had not thought of it before. I put together a practice deck and I have been using one to practice magic ever since. I like the idea so much that I reached out to Ben Salinas and he was kind enough to allow me share the idea with you. If you want to read Ben’s original post you can check that out here.
Ben has not been posting on his blog much lately, but there is some fun and interesting stuff there so be sure to check that out. Maybe we can convince him to share some more things with us.
What I really like about this practice deck is how simple, customizable, and effective it is. Primarily this is an analog system that helps to randomly organize your practice session and keep them interesting.
Here is what you need:
A deck of cards (grab an old one)
The names of the effects that you want or need to practice.
On the faces of your cards write the names of the effects that you want to practice. One effect per card.
With all of your effects on the faces of the cards, shuffle the deck, turn over the top card and that’s the effect you practice next. When you're done with the first effect, put that card on the bottom of the deck and turn over the next card and practice that effect. This keeps your practice fresh and interesting, rather than always doing things in the same order.
If you only have a handful of effects that you want to work on then you do not have to use an entire deck. You can just keep a small packet of cards, mix them up and do things the same way. If you have more than 52 effects that you want to work on then just keep adding to your practice deck. What makes sense to me is that your practice deck be one complete pack of cards, that way you can use the deck to run through your effects rather than having to carry around an extra pack.
Ben Salinas shares that he also puts a reference on the cards so that he can go back to the book, DVD, or other source should he need to. I do that sometimes as well, but I have also added a short hand of moves to the card to help me remember the moves, and what order to do things in.
This is a very simple practice tool and it’s small. You can put it in your pocket or bag and practice anywhere. I have found it very helpful and fun to use and I think you will to.
After I had been using the idea for a while, I started playing around with some other ideas and here are the two that I found the most helpful for me.
As a Set Builder:
One of the first practice decks I made was all the effects I wanted to put into my set. Cards, coins, etc…I started playing a game where I would mix the cards, turn over the top card, practice the effect, then turn over the next card, and try to transition from the first effect to the next. This was helping me to think on my feet about how to link effects together into a routine.
In the long run I found that this help me put routines into sets to try out. If things felt really good and the tricks went well together, or the transitions really worked during my practice sessions, then I would try it out in performance and see how the reactions were.
As a Creativity Tool:
In some practice decks, I have added sleights to the faces of the cards instead of effects. I turn over the first card and I execute the move then transition to the next card and perform that move. This is a fun way to try and create effects with the moves you know.
I would love to hear about it, if you give the practice deck a try, and what your thoughts on it are. Leave a comment below with your thoughts.