Miles Baltrusaitis

Marketer, Musician,

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One Week Learning the Tin Whistle

one week seriesWhy Learn the Tin Whistle?

I've been interested in the tin whistle (aka penny whistle) at least since high school when I first started to explore Irish music. I'd heard the odd reel and jig on St. Patrick's Day and admired the mellow tone of a the whistle mixed with accordions and concertinas.

I also appreciate how this sweet little instrument seems so simple. It's unassuming and grounded. They're inexpensive to buy and I presumed enjoyable to play after a short period of training. I also presumed it was reasonably easy enough for a child to learn. Much like the plastic recorders kids learn to play in grade school music class.

Beyond that, I imagined that one day I might be decent enough to approach other tunes like the Concerning Hobbits song from Lord of the Rings, the theme from Braveheart and, if I practiced really hard, My Heart Will Go On from the blockbuster Titanic.

What Did I Do to Learn Tin Whistle?

For Christmas, I received a tin whistle gift pack, containing a D whistle made by Waltons, an instruction book and a sample CD. I picked up the whistle, read through the booklet and attempted the songs without ever listening to the CD. (I'm sure I'll check out the CD eventually. I just haven't yet.)

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One Week: Learning Magic

one-week-seriesWhy Learning Magic?

I watched Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay on Netflix and I enjoyed it. The movie reminded me of a childhood friend's dad (Mr. Brennan) who also did some magic. His act had a big reveal that ended with opening a new pack of cards and pulling "my" card from the new deck. I probably played it down at the time but I remember it 25 years later so it must have left an impression. 

I've always felt pretty clumsy with cards so I figured if I dedicated some time, I might improve my gracefulness with shuffling and presentation. 

What did I do to learn magic?

I started at reddit magic. I'm pretty new to reddit but I've been using internet forums for a long time so I figured a place like this would have the basics readily available as a sticky towards the top of threaded discussions. The threads I found recommended the book The Royal Road to Card Magic so I got it.

The book starts with shuffling. The first shuffle it teaches was the overhand shuffle, which apparenly becomes the basis for controlling the top card of the deck, the top two cards of the deck or a set amount of cards towards the top of the deck. After I felt comfortable with that, I went looking for how to do card fanning. Got pretty confident with that too. 


How was a week of learning magic?

As hard as I imagined. I've tried palming things like cards and coins in the past. False passing objects between hands is hard. I can sometimes get the transfer from one hand to the other pretty smoothly but it results in a momentary illusion as the object is just in the other hand. 

The overhand shuffle was actually a lot of fun. I did it on the train commute (about 1 hour each way) so I got pretty good at it. 

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One week: Having a Mustache


It is not a stretch to say that mustaches for "people like me" are unpopular.

Sure, some truckers have them. Policemen. Firemen. Some older men with gray mustaches wear them with confidence. The young urban caucasian male may have an ironic mustache. Well groomed mustaches are still popular for middle class men of African and Latino descent.

But middle-aged, middle-class caucasian father working downtown? Nope. I figured I would stand out to pretty much everyone I saw. 

So, I decided to wear one. 

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