The Psychic Pianist

(A Nelmar Mental Exclusive)

Effect: Performer distributes a deck of blank-faced cards among the audience, instructing them to write thereon the names of their favorite pieces of music, preferably old-time pieces that everybody can recognize when they are played. The cards are then gathered up.

Performer now allows any spectator to shuffle the cards as much as he pleases and to select one with the deck in his own hands. Absolute freedom of selection is permitted. Spectator does not permit performer to see the face of the card, but instead rises, concentrates on the card - and the pianist on the stage plays the piece WITHOUT THE PERFORMER EVER HAVING SEEN THE FACE OF THE CARD AND WITHOUT A WORD HAVING BEEN SPOKEN BY ANYBODY. After the pianist has played sufficient of the piece to identify it, the performer asks her the name of the piece she has played. She announces the name, whereupon the performer asks the standing spectator whether or not the pianist is correct. Of course, she is invariably correct. The standing spectator then resumes his seat.

Performer takes back the deck and hands it to any other spectator, and the complete action stated above is repeated, with similar result?.

The procedure is continued for the full performance, which should not exceed six pieces, since otherwise the effect may become boring. Six correct demonstrations adequately prove the qualifications (?) of the pianist as a psychic in the field of music, and that is the purpose of the presentation.


No rehearsal necessary. No music necessary. Use any strange pianist and with only a few minutes notice. Failure impossible. No skill. No codes. Nothing for either the performer or the pianist to learn or remember. Nothing to forget. No restriction in range of pieces used. No forcing of individual cards chosen by spectators.

The method can also be applied to the answering of questions written by the audience, to a lightning calculation act, and to a thought foretold act of any kind.

The method is absurdly simple, but it has never been detected in presentation before critical audiences. And now for the simple secret.

Method: The cards are merely colored pasteboard of the best quality obtainable and no heavier than playing card stock. A deck consists of 30 cards, comprising five cards of each of six colors. The cards are the size of bridge cards.


Two decks of cards are used, each containing five cards of each of the six colors. Deck No. 1 is unprepared, and is distributed among the spectators for the writing of their favorite selections. Deck No. 2 is prepared, and is switched for Deck No. 1 at the proper time as hereafter explained. A very plausible explanation is given to the audience for the use of colored cards.

All cards of the same color in Deck No. 2 are prepared in advance by writing thereon the same name of a popular song. Thus, all red cards in Deck No. 2 may show the name "Jingle Bells"; all yellow cards the name "Old Black Joe", and so on throughout the six colors. Sinee only six pieces will be played, only six colors are necessary, and each of the six pieces is thus repeated five times on the cards comprising Deck No. 2.

If a regular assistant is used as the pianist, the same Deck No. 2 may be used from one performance to the next. However, if you are going to use a strange pianist, you approach her and ask her for the names of six pieces of well-known music that she can play from memory. You list them on a small card, and opposite each of them you write the name of a color, thus:

America - White

Jingle Bells - Red

How Dry I Am - Yellow

Old Black Joe - Blue

Killarney - Green

Aloha Oe - Gray

You then tell her to keep this card in her hanky on the music stand of the piano. When she sees a spectator rise and concentrate on a card that he holds, the pianist should observe the color of the card and then play the selection on her list that is opposite that color,. That is all there is to it, so far as she is concerned. How or why the trick works is your own problem and secret.

The pianist is instructed to keep the card concealed so that only she can read it, and imbedding it in her hanky serves this purpose. She is to name the piece after she has played it and AFTER YOU HAVE ASKED HER TO DO SO.

The act consists in her repeating this procedure six times, once for each color, as spectators rise among the audience and concentrate on cards they hold that are so colored.

Now that the pianist has been so simply instructed, the performer retires with a list of the pianist's pieces and proceeds to prepare Deck No. 2. He merely writes on the respective colored cards the names of the six pieces, thus repeating each name of a song five times in preparing the deck of 30 cards. The 30 cards should then be shuffled thoroughly so as to scatter the colors throughout the deck.

Likewise, Deck No. 1, consisting of a similar 30 cards except that there is no writing on them, should be shuffled thoroughly. The bottom card should finally be a white card, and two diagonally opposing corners of this card should be clipped off sufficiently to permit your recognizing the card when ycu reach it in the deck.

Assemble the two decks as follows: Place Deck No. 2 on your left palm, writing side of cards upward. On top place the plain white card with the corners clipped. On top of all place Deck No. 1, which comprises all black cards.

Explain the. nature of the demonstration, vis., that the pianist will endeavor to play any pieces of music thought of by the audience and without a word being spoken. Suggest to the audience that only names of songs that are well known to everyone be selected, inasmuch as otherwise it may be difficult for some pectators to identify the pieces when they are actually played.

State that yo.u have a number of different colored cards comprising a deck, and that you will pass these cards out among the audience with the request that the recipients write thereon the name of a favorite song. Ask that the writing be done rapidly, and state that you will supply a pencil to each writer in order that the writing may be distinct, the pencils you loan the audience being soft lead. You now proceed to hand out the cards until you come to the white card with the corners clipped, at which point you stop and retain the remaining cards in your left hand.

You nov7 explain the use of colored cards. State that it would be most desirable if each card were a different color, inasmuch as then the writer of any song name would instantly recognize his card when it is used in the test that is to follow. However, it is impossible to obtain cards in that many colors, since a whole deck of cards is distributed among the audience, and hence the deck unavoidably contains several cards of each color. While this fact interfers somewhat with the immediate identification of one's card by its color, it does serve the purpose better than would be the case if all cards were the same color, such as wnite. Only several persons in the audience will have used a card with the same color, and hence the use of different colored cards will localize the identification of the writer of a chosen song down to possibly three individuals, which is better than no localization whatever.

Performer also calls attention to the fact that there is no marking of any kind whatever on any of the cards except the song names that the audience will write on them.

The performer now proceeds to collect the cards with writing sides face down, placing them on top of the packet he still holds in his hand and which comprise Deck No. 2, After he has thus completed collecting Deck No. 1 he casually turns the two decks over in his left hand in the course of turning to return to the stage. He also cuts off the top deck (which is the faked one) and places the lower deck (No. 1, on which the spectators wrote their song names) in his vest pocket. Since only half the packet of the two decks was passed out for writing purposes, it is presumed by the audience that the performer has merely removed the blank cards that had remained in his hands after passing half the card out for use by the audience.

The performer now informs the audience that there will not be sufficient time for the pianist to play all the selections that have been written on the cards, so it will be necessary to reduce the number of playing to a representative number of the names written on the cards. So saying he steps down among the audience and hands the pack writing side down to a spectator and asks him to shuffle them in overhand fashion. He also informs the audience that he will have representative spectators shuffle the cards and choose one at random as the particular piece to be played. He adds that no word will be spoken during the test, and he particularly wishes it understood that he must not see the face of any selected card. Instead, the chooser of any card will rise and face the pianist, and will then study intently the name of the song on the card of his choice. Said spectator will remain standing and silent until the pianist catches the vibrations of his mind and attempts to play the piece.

The first spectator shuffles the deck and removes one card, returning the remainder of the deck to the performer, who retains it face down in his left palm. Performer motions the spectator to rise and concentrate on his card, the performer cannot possibly see the face of the card.

Pianist glances at the spectator, sees the color of the back of the card that is being held and concentrated on, and proceeds to play sufficient of the piece to enable it to be identified. Of course, seeing the color of the back of the card she merely glances at her list and places the piece that is named opposite that color.

Performer signals her to stop and then says: "The name of that piece that you just played?'1, and she answers by naming it. Performer turns to the spectator and asks, "Is that your selection, sir?" Is she correct?" Spectator answers, and sits down. Performer takes back of the selected card and puts it in his pocket alongside the other card lying there.

Thus the performer goes from one spectator to the next, having each select a card of a different color from those already used, ostensibly to give variety in the. cards used. If a spectator hesitates to do so, tell him that maximum cooperation is necessary in all mental demonstrations, and without hesitation take the deck from him and proceed to work with another spectator instead. And thus the program continues until all six pieces have been played and acknowledged.

It must be borne in mind that each writer on, say, a green card, on finding that his selection that he wrote was not the one played from a green card finally used, will assume that the piece finally played was written on a green card by some other spectator, since several spectator used the same colored cards in every case, Furthermore, all the writers on green cards cannot get together to check up, because they are scattered among the audience and do not know which is which.

Also, all the rest of the audience will think that the use of colored cards will localize identification of the writer down to several people (since only several cards of the same color are in the deck), without giving thought to the inability of all writers on the same colored cards to get together and compare notes. While the method is brazen, IT WORKS, and that is all that is required or desired.

Here is a modification whereby the same color can be used the second time in the effect. Instead of using six colors, use three, say red, white, and blue. Then you will have ten cards of each color in the deck.

You will also use two faked decks, each comprising ten cards of red, ten of white, and ten of blue color.

In making arrangements with the pianist, you will tell her that six pieces will be played as followst

RED: First showing of a red card - America

Second showing of a red card - Old Black Joe

WHITE: First showing of a white card - Swanee River

Second showing of a white card - Old Black Joe

BLUE: First showing of a blue card - How Dry I Am Second showing of a blue card - Jingle Bells

You now prepare the first faked deck with the names of songs listed above as being in the first showing. You then prepare a second faked deck with the names of the songs given as being in the second showing. This second faked deck you place in your left coat pocket.

The presentation is the same as in the version wherein six colors are;, used, except you casually place the left hand containing the first faked deck in your left coat pocket during the playing of the third piece of the first series, and immediately withdraw your hand after having made an exchange of decks while in the pocket. All attention is on the pianist and the standing spectator, so there is nothing to fear.

The exchange of decks in the pocket is simplicity itself. It may be well to bisect the pocket by means of placing an envelope therein, with the deck to be dropped on one side of the envelope and the one to be removed from the other. In any event, during the playing of the third piece from the first faked deck you have changed decks, and can now proceed with the fourth spectator by handing him the second faked deck for shuffling and selection.

The result is that the audience (who think that only the one deck is used throughout, of course) will see a second card of the same color selected, and yet a different piece will be played therefrom, thus eliminating any idea (if there is any, which is extremely doubtful) that the color of the card is any cue to the pianist.

Now the fifth and sixth pieces can also be played from this second faked deck, and the same colors .jill be-used as were employed for the first three tests. No codes to learn by anyone, no words or signs to learn or use. The spectators, themselves, without saying a word, unwittingly give the clues to the pianist by reason of the color of the cards they hold.

In concluding the demonstration the performer reminds the audience that ordinarily such teats are between the pianist and the performer down in.the audience, the two persons having through long practice developed the ability to transmit their thoughts to each other.

However, in the demonstrations given tonight the pianist has had direct contact ONLY with the spectators, themselves, inasmuch as the performer at no time ever saw the face of a card that was selected for playing. This feature of the evening's performance called for much greater cooperation on the part of all members of the audience in order to accomplish anything, and the extent of the success of the experiments is a distinct credit to the helpful attitude of the audience, for which the performer gives sincere thanks and best wishes.

Needless to say, the pianist does not know how the cards selected by the spectators happened to have on their f aces the names of the songs that she originally named as being in her repertoire. So she is unable to explain how the miracle was accomplished, since she knows nothing of the faked desk(s) or the performer's inner procedures in presenting the mystery.

When presenting the effect with a strange pianist from whom a list of suitable songs must be obtained before beginning the program, some time will be saved if the color-names have been written in advance on the key card that will be left with her. All that will be necessary then to complete the key card will be to fill in the song names.

The number of appropriate songs is surprisingly small. A list of 100 could be arranged that would cover every contingency. By having ten cards of like color already prepared with the name of the same song written on each, and similarly treating the 100 possible songs (i.e., songs generally known), you could take those 100 ''sets" to the entertainment and from them arrange in a few moments either one or two faked decks in accordance with the six such songs that the pianist knows. This would mean just a matter of moments in getting ready under the. most adverse conditions.

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