If someone wants to take up magic how do they gain the required knowledge if magicians are sworn to secrecy?
Most people will start their journey into the magical with a magic set as a child or maybe a magic book; I know when I was a kid that’s how I started. The sets are readily available at toy shops (I’d recommend anything by Marvin’s Magic) and the books can be found in any book shop or even in the hobby section of the library. These days you can also find instructional videos on YouTube however these can be pretty hit and miss and are probably best to be avoided if you want to learn techniques properly. There are also videos which profit from giving away other people’s methods and routines which is pretty unethical so these people shouldn’t be encouraged. If after playing with a couple of magic sets and reading a couple of magic books you feel like you’ve been bitten by the magic bug and want to take it to the next step there are three things you can do:
Find a Magic Shop
Actual bricks and mortar magic shops are becoming increasingly rare so if you can find one local to where you live you are very lucky and you should definitely make the most of it! I used to be a regular at JB Magic in Blackpool but since that went completely online I’ve been restricted to just popping into shops around the country while I’m on my travels doing gigs. There are still plenty of online shops though who are always ready to help and give advice, either on the phone, via online chat or by email. Alakazam, Propdog and Merchant of Magic are probably the ones I use the most as well as Vanishing Inc, Saturn Magic and World Magic Shop.
Whether the shop is online or physical you’ll be able to find resources that aren’t available to the general public, it’s the real-life version of a visit to Diagon Alley and muggles have no idea what they’re missing out on! There’s books, DVDs and downloads as well as an array of special magic props with all kinds of weird, wonderful and unexpected uses. If you are still a beginner don’t be intimidated though and don’t buy something that is above your level of ability. If you explain to the person there (either actually there or virtually there) that you are a beginner they’ll be able to steer you towards great tricks that are relatively easy which will develop your confidence and your skills.
Go to a Convention or Lecture
There are a variety of magic conventions around the country where magicians gather to share their tricks and ideas as well as to watch great magic and check out the latest magic products. The biggest is the Blackpool Magic Convention where for four days the biggest stars in the world of magic give lectures to educate and inspire us mere mortals; every major magic shop has a stand selling their latest products and absolutely incredible performers wow audiences with the shows that they tour around the world to sold out audiences. My personal favourite convention though is The Session, run by Vanishing Inc and held in London. This is a smaller more laid back affair where you can actually hang out with the people who are doing the lectures and shows, chat magic with them and share ideas… or just have a few beers and a few laughs with them.
If you don’t fancy a full weekend of magic then just going to a lecture might be more your thing. These are put on by magic clubs around the country and give you the opportunity to learn from top magicians as well as socialise with other attendees. Don’t worry if you’re not a member of a magic club (I wasn’t for a LONG time) these lectures are usually open to non-members for a small fee and you can find out about them by keeping an eye on www.magicweek.co.uk which is also a good place to generally keep up to date with what’s going on in the world of magic.
Invent Your Own Tricks
Once you’ve played with the magic sets, read the magic books, watched the DVDs, downloaded the downloads, been to the conventions and lectures you should have a reasonable knowledge of techniques, sleights and methods which you can put together to start creating your own tricks and routines. This is really one of the main differences between an amateur and a professional and is a step the majority of magicians won’t take. However, I find blowing people’s minds or making them laugh with something that I’ve come up with myself is amazing! It also has the advantage that people can’t just find the secret online afterwards unless you put it out their yourself. If you’ve got good magic knowledge it also means you can make up a magic trick on the spot if you like. This means your audience gets to see something that no one else has seen which makes them feel pretty special. It’s terrifying for the performer but also exhilarating!
Can you think of better ways to learn magic? Let me know in the comments. As always please feel free to like and share, and if you ever think that whatever you’re doing is pointless just remember… somewhere somebody is fitting indicators onto a BMW!