One question people ask professional magicians a lot is 'can anyone learn magic?'. The short answer is yes. Like any skill, the ability to learn magic has something to do with what skills you have to begin with. But also like any skill there is so much you can do to learn and improve what it takes to become a good magician. Here are some of the skills required to be a good magician.
No surprise, when doing sleight of hand style magic, manual dexterity is a must. But that does not mean that you can not do magic! If you are 'two left thumbs' (is that the hands equivalent of two left feet?) do not worry because there are still many types of magicians who do not rely on manual dexterity for their repertoire.
Presentation and Theatrical Skills
Magic is performing art. Be careful of magic videos you see all over YouTube that are all about clever fingers work with cards or coins. That might be OK on camera but magic in the outside world relies on so much more. When you do magic, you will improve your public speaking skills. If you really want to get good, you might want to find a theatre skills or clowning course. Make no mistake: all of the skills you learn there will improve your magic.
There is so much psychology in good magic. Why do people think what they think is a fascinating and bottomless field of psychology that is a part what makes every magic performance work (or not!).
The topic of psychology also spills over into interpersonal skills which are essential in a good magician when interacting with an audience. A magician needs to 'read' their audience. This is done by looking and listening, and maybe adjusting how they are doing the performance based on what they see or hear.
Skills in memory are valuable in learning magic in many ways. It could be remembering the moves in the routine. Or it could be memorising a script. There are also lots of routines especially with cards where memory devices are put to good use to perform absolute miracles for the audience! But forget the magic for a second... when you perform for audiences if you just remember their names you will have accomplished a feat every magician will be remembered for.
Working on magic develops your creativity. Magicians who want to fly can not stop gravity. Others who want to walk on water can not make it instantly solid. And magicians who want to cut themselves in half can not really defy the laws of physics. Magicians are working with constraints all the time. With those constraints, their creativity has to save the day to help them solve problems and make those impossible things happen in the audience's eyes.
Magic practice and rehearsal mean you need to stick with it long enough to improve. Step by step, you will get there. Do you want to know how to practice well and not waste your time? Then read this article on how to practice magic.
Learning magic is easier than you might think. You can perform impressive magic at any skill level. The most important thing is this: no matter how simple the secret may seem, give your routine quality time before you perform it. Instead of a 'trick' to play on someone, if you treat magic like a gift you are giving your audience, you are on the beginning of an exciting journey. Here are five valuable tips to help you get the magic ball rolling.
FIND YOUR FAVOURITE TYPE
If you want to learn how to become a magician, first you might want to browse some of the types of magicians there are. Pick your favourite type and then you will have a better idea of what area you might like to explore first.
It is tempting to learn a dozen tricks in your first week. Resist the temptation! It is much better to learn a few routines really really well than to have a bag full of sloppy seconds and thirds (and fourths!).
PRACTICE & REHEARSE
Practicing is learning your moves and script. Rehearsing is performing to no one as if you were really doing it for an audience. To become a good magician, you need to do both. Always practice and rehearse more than you think you need to. Then wait a week and do it more again. After that, you are probably ready to perform it for a few friends. Then find some new people to perform it for. And them, find some more! Each time will become easier and more fun. If you want some pro advice on how to get the most out of your practice, check out this practice techniques article.
LEARN FROM THE AUDIENCE
Pay attention to what the audience likes. If you have practiced and rehearsed you probably will not make a disaster of it. But if something does go wrong, it is not the end of the world! Learn from it and it will go better next time. The best magicians are those who have not been afraid of making the mistakes.
LEARN FROM A MENTOR
After you have done all the steps above for a while, you will become an even better magician when you find a mentor to learn from. This is someone who knows the ropes and someone who is good with teaching. Find someone with experience in the kind of magic you like, and who has a track record with teaching.
In this section you will learn the best kept secret of great magicians. There are so many fun ways to get into magic. Magic shops are exciting places to buy magic from. There is also so much magic online and video teaching that is available at your fingertips. Magic clubs can also be fun places to meet other magicians and learn from each other. All this is great but be sure you make books the foundation of your magic.
A trick you buy from a shop gives you a thrill. But only a book will give you an understanding of how to really be good. When people learn from a video they tend to copy what they see and hear. But when they learn magic from a book, they will interpret the words to suit them as individuals. A magician will spend the same amount for one trick from a shop as they will for a book that gives them so much more material to perform as well as value.
Here are just a few great books to start learning magic at beginner and intermediate levels.
- Expert Card Technique by Jean Hugard
- Royal Road to Card Magic by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue
- Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic by Mark Wilson
- Modern Coin Magic by J. B. Bobo
- The Performance of Close up Magic by Eugene Burger