One of the questions that I’m regularly asked when I’m doing my shows and close-up performances is how do you get started as a magician and where do you begin to learn magic tricks. Here are five helpful tips for anyone who wants to amaze their friends or even start the journey to mystifying audiences for a living.
When I first started out, in the days before the internet, there was these things called books. Apparently, you can still find them now if you know where to look. When I was a kid I used to bike it from my parents’ house in Charnock Richard all the way to Coppull Library (which was quite a trek for a nine year old and involved riding through a forest and the grounds of Coppull Mill) and I’m informed the government hasn’t quite shut down all the libraries yet so if you’re lucky enough to have access to one it’s a good place to start. You’ll find the magic books in the hobbies section although quite often they are in the kids’ section. Don’t let this put you off, the information in them will still get you started on the basics of sleight of hand, misdirection and all the fundamental principles.
If you are looking for just one book that will give you some great tricks by great magicians and teach you some great skills I’d highly recommend Magic for Dummies. I originally bought the book as a joke prop for a show bur having read it I’d highly recommend it as a starting place for anyone who wants to get into magic.
If you were a kid in the late 80s or early 90s chances are that at some point you were given a Paul Daniels Magic Set, I know I was, although we were pretty skint growing up so I only got the 50 tricks version, not the much coveted 100 tricks box! There are still plenty of magic sets available now, in fact I bought the Richard Jones Magic Set for my partner’s little lad last Christmas and it’s really good. There are plenty of cheap rubbish ones though, filled with props that will break after a handful of uses but if you get anything from Marvin’s Magic you won’t go wrong. They teach the required skills and have great props that can be used by young and old alike, I still use the fake arm trick from their Freaky Body Illusions set to terrify adults in my Halloween shows!
Even more rare than libraries are actual magic shops. If you are lucky enough to live near one (a quick Google search for ‘magic shops in (your area)’ should be enough to find the nearest one) the shopkeeper will be able to advise you on which books, sets, props or other products are suitable for your skill level. It is also a great place to chat with other magicians, generally hang out, and learn about the latest tricks that are coming out. I used to love hanging (and occasionally working) at JB Magic in Blackpool before it closed and when I’m touring I always look to see if there’s a magic shop in whatever town I’m staying in.
If you can’t find a bricks and mortar magic shop near you don’t worry there are plenty of online outlets. You obviously don’t quite get the same face-to-face advice and service but some of them do have a chat facility, so you can actually talk to someone about your needs, or you can just email them for advice and recommendations. My favourite site is Alakazam.co.uk, who really just do everything right, magicshop.co.uk are a close second and there are plenty of others that I use regularly. DON’T use Magic Tao!
4.Get A Mentor
The word mentor sounds a bit formal but it’s a good idea to befriend a more experienced magician whose knowledge you can benefit from. I was lucky enough to be working in the background at Camelot Theme Park’s shows when I met Paul Roberts who got me started, gave me advice and gave me my first opportunities. I know most people aren’t in that type of environment though so I guess the best way to make magic friends is to go to where magicians are; places such as magic shops, magic clubs or magic conventions. There are also lots of magicians’ groups on social media.
5.Practice and Perform
Once you’ve got the books, props and know-how it’s time to follow the four golden rules of magic: 1-Practice, 2-Practice again, 3- Practice until you can do it perfectly, 4-Practice some more. You shouldn’t just practice until you can do it right, you should practice until you can’t do it wrong! However, practicing the trick is only half the battle, you need to perform it. It’s probably why you want to do magic in the first place and there really is no substitute for performing for people. It’s terrifying and exhilarating and it’s the only way you’ll make your tricks more baffling and more entertaining.
So there’s my five steps for getting into performing magic. Have I left any out or do you have any questions? Please feel free to leave your ideas, queries and suggestions in the comments. If you are interested in learning magic I also offer my services as a magic tutor or I can provide magic workshops for your next event, please get in touch on the contact details below. Thanks for reading.