Happy New Year!

Dear Friends:

Our first Museletter of the new year is from Kat Rettke. If you’ve attended Magic & Meaning, you’ve certainly met Kat. If you’ve attended one of our other events, you’ve received our 30-day-out and 10-day-out letters from her, or communicated with her about your registrations. While not a regular performer of magic herself, Kat has been an avid fan and student of magic for many years. She has become an invaluable and much-loved member of our team at the McBride Magic & Mystery School. I know you’ll enjoy her thoughts below.

From Kat Rettke:

I challenge anyone who is a magic enthusiast, an amateur or a hobbyist, to ask yourself what is it about your study of magic that you apply to your own personal or professional life? What are the theories and skills you use in your profession which are common to the skills needed for magic? 

Magic clubs and other magician groups are wonderful social opportunities for those of us in the magic community. More importantly, I would guess that we have all found that learning the art of magic has been good for us in other areas of our lives, even among those of us who have no hope of ever making our living on stage.

“Great magicians are masters at analyzing their audience.  They climb into their point of view… (they) create empathy with their audience, and they adjust their approach by picking up the feedback continually sent to them via audience facial expressions, applause (or its absence), gasps, laughter, the collective intake and expulsion of breath, and (above all) silence.”

                       – David Morey, Eugene Burger and John E. McLaughlin, Creating Business Magic

More than twenty years of my life have been spent working as a social worker, mostly in healthcare settings. I was drawn to magic as a hobby, perhaps as a way to engage in an activity completely different from how I made a living, but mostly because I was very shy. I wanted a way to break the ice with other people.

Unfortunately, I never practiced enough to develop any magic skills beyond a very beginner level, and yet…there is so much more to the story for me about how valuable magic has been to me in other areas of my life.  

In my professional workplace, I would find myself thinking about parallels between some of the skills of master magicians, and skills common in different theories of counseling; for instance, the skills of empathy and listening. Although I cannot credit the study of the art of magic with teaching me the skills of listening and empathy, it has been valuable to my development of these skills. Learning about audience management, audience reactions, and body language has sharpened the listening skills and feedback techniques I have learned and used as a social worker. I enjoy learning magic performance theory as a way to explore skills important to working with people from a unique perspective.  I can think of so many examples of working in healthcare settings, where I have been made aware of the power of listening and observing the body language of others, as a way to diffuse a potentially hostile situation.

“Magic itself is a gift.  It can create the appreciation that things are not as they seem, and therefore, that something better is possible.”
– Robert Neale, Magic Matters Tricks & Essays

At its heart, social work as well as performance magic can inspire hope that we all have the power to change our lives for the better.  I am grateful for both.

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