A trick invariably well received is executed with hat and umbrella. In this, the brim of the hat is balanced on the nose, and while in that position the umbrella is laid across the hat resting on its brim and the edge of its crown.
This makes a charming opening trick, for while the hat is balanced with the umbrella on top, the hands are at liberty to remove gloves, overcoat, etc. Then calmly, with a slight forward movement of the head, let the hat drop into proper position. The umbrella will slide down behind, where it can be caught without any apparent effort as it falls towards the floor by a hand slipped around to the back.
A very entertaining and pleasing little feat is done by throwing up a coin from the foot, catching it in the eye and retaining it there as an eyeglass. I recommend this trick as it requires but little practice and no great space in which to perform it. The chief thing required is a piece to fit the eye. Any piece of round metal will do. The edge can be milled to bring down the size and it can be silvered or nickel-plated to give it a more artistic appearance.
The coin should be placed on the center of the toe of the boot. The foot is then slightly lifted off the floor and held a little forward while the body is balanced on one foot. After a momentary pause in which to judge the distance, throw up the coin a few inches above the forehead. As it is just on the point of descending, drop the body a little at the same instant to prevent the coin bouncing off the forehead.
The head must be thrown well back as the coin is caught, just above the nose when possible. When the coin is resting in this position, gently shake it down over one eye. When the coin is over the eye, open the eye fairly wide and then close down the muscles over the edge of the coin, still with the head well back.
A neat way of introducing this trick is to take the coin from the waistcoat-pocket. After the coin has been thrown off the boot, caught in the eye and retained there long enough to obtain the due effect, it can be dropped into the pocket again by just holding the pocket slightly open with the first finger and thumb and releasing the coin from the eye.
What do you do with the person who wants to juggle but fails, despite his or her best efforts? Don't give up, here's a method that works! The following steps will help you take hard-core non-jugglers through the steps slower and with more success:
ONE BALL - Have the subject toss one ball back and forth from one hand to the other, throwing on the inside with a scooping motion and catching on the outside. Throw to a point just above the head above the opposite hand. If he or she can't catch 90 percent of the time, have them play catch with a friend until they can!
TWO BALLS - Subject begins with a ball in each hand. Throw from left to right and then from right to left, but don't catch them! The object is to concentrate on throws. Don't let your klutz go further until they can make identical and evenly timed throws.
When the throws look good, let them catch only one ball - the first one thrown. Let the second ball drop. They should do this with near perfection before they're allowed to try to catch the second one. Teach them to begin with each hand.
SIAMESE TWINS - Show this soon to be ex-non-juggler what a three ball cascade is by juggling with him or her. Put an arm around each others' waist and let them cascade with you using only one hand each. If they can keep their half going for ten throws with either hand, let them try the cascade on their own. If not, keep reading.
THREE BALL EXERCISES - The aspiring juggler begins with two balls in the right hand and one in the left. The next step is three throws and no catches. Be sure the form and rhythm are good. Each throw should be the same height and should hit its target point above the other hand. When this looks good, let him or her catch the first ball only. Then catch two, and finally toss and catch three.
The next step is to reverse the ball placement. Start with two balls in the left and one in the right. If the subject can make three tosses and catches, move on to four. Begin each step with two balls in the dominant hand, giving him or her an edge.
Should they still have trouble, give them a pep talk and try some more Siamese juggling. If they're still not getting close, back up to a point in the process where they can succeed and start again there. Employing these steps, a patient learner almost cannot fail!
For those interested in "hearing" the rhythm of juggling, get some sweat bands for your wrists and sew some small sleigh bells onto them. I bought two sets of five brass jingle bells and spaced them equally around the band. The bells were 2 mm, 4 mm, 8 mm, 16 mm and 24 mm, providing different pitches of sound.
The noise made by the bells differs depending on what I am juggling and what pattern I'm using. When I do a fast three-ball shower off the floor it sounds very musical. Each pair of same-sized bells sounds the same note, but at different times. The net effect is hearing five notes sounded twice for each manipulation of one ball. In a sense, the rhythm of the balls is transferred to the bells. There's also a subtle training benefit because you can easily detect when your pattern is even and steady through the feedback from the bells.
I can imagine that children who love the tinkle of bells will especially love what I have in store for them this Christmas; a holiday theme is the perfect context for this jingle bell effect!