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Topic: Teaching a Magic Class
Message: Posted by: robwar0100 (Mar 9, 2014 12:58PM)
This is my first time popping into the beginners section. I have been studying and performing for more than three decades (man, am I getting old!).

I love magic with ordinary objects (especially rope) and mentalism (probably because it is virtually prop-less).

I have been wanting to teach a magic class at a local arts center in Northeast Ohio for the past few years, but I never made it a priority ... until now.

I have been working on an outline for the class, which the director wants to run about six weeks.

Here is what I have so far:

1. Magic Show / Intro to Magic (Perform things I will be teaching, talk about magic as entertainment)
2. Card Basics (Grips, Cuts and Shuffles)
3. Card Magic (Key Card, Self-Working)
4. Money Magic
5. Magic w/Ordinary Objects (Napkins, Paper, Rubber Bands, Toothpicks)
6. ?????

While this is a basic outline of what I have been working on, I have no problem changing anything.

I need your input, and I would appreciate it. Here are some things I would like to know:

1. Do you teach a magic class? If so, can you point me to any resources or offer me advice?

2. Are you a beginner in magic? If so, what types of tricks would be good to teach? What got you interested?

3. Is there anything that would be helpful for me to know as I embark on this endeavor?

Thanks so much,

Message: Posted by: MRSharpe (Mar 9, 2014 01:49PM)
Sponge Balls would be a good thing to put in place of the question marks. They are entertaining and a good way to get students thinking of presentation and misdirection since the moves are fairly easy to do. In fact, I would move them up the list closer to the beginning of the class. Think about rope magic too. A good C&R routine and a basic PM plays well for those just getting into magic.
1) I have never taught a group class, but have had three private students in the past.
2) I have another decade+ on you, but I don't think that really matters.
3) To answer this I have several suggestions and one anecdote"
a.Have your lesson plans written out in advance.
b.Make handouts for the students, with illustrations where appropriate, so that note taking is kept to a minimum.
c. Don't just do a show for the first session, actually teach them something. I would suggest the impossible knot as this plays well and is easy to teach.
d. Consider having a props kit included with the fee. This can be handed out at the first or second session to save time and confusion that might occur if each student is required to obtain their own props. This is a value for value thing as well and may get more students to register if it is in your promotional materials.
d. Take a survey of your students to make sure that what you intend to teach is something they want to learn. I say this because one of my students said he wanted me to teach him whatever I think was appropriate. I said, "OK. How about card magic?" and he agreed that would be great. After about six months it was obvious he wasn't practicing sleights. Then a family member bought him a nice magic set for Christmas and he brought it to the next session. It was then I found out that what he really wanted was to learn how to do commercial effects that didn't involve sleight of hand. He was getting ready to go on a six week vacation visiting several large cities, so I gave him an assignment. That was to visit a magic store in each city, buy a trick while there and then bring them back and we would get together upon his return. When we got back together, he had learned most of his tricks that he bought and most of the tricks from the magic set. He was happy with this lesson and we didn't get back together. I say this not to suggest that you tell them all to go to a magic shop and guy a trick--although this might not be a bad idea if you live near a "brick and mortar" store. Rather, if you have a student who just wants to find out how to learn commercial effects, or worse one who has seen all the masked magician shows and want to have more secrets revealed, both of you will be disappointed. The guy I'm referring to was a retired school principal and I'm pretty sure that he was thinking in his old "school requirements" mode. This survey could be done with a form that you give students when they register or the first session.
I hope this helps.
Message: Posted by: RobFromNZ (Mar 9, 2014 03:51PM)
Yeah, I guess it depends on who is attending as to what to include.

If it's grandpa's and uncles wanting a few tricks for the family get-togethers that would be different than (say) teenagers who have been watching Dynamo or David Blaine. I believe (possibly more for the first group) you'd find good material in Karl Fulves books. Perhaps selections from his Self-Working mental magic would nicely fit in the last week. If your audience is wanting to do street magic type stuff, perhaps another week on cards?

I think it'd be good to teach some stuff they can do almost straight away at home for family. At the same time, it would be good to encourage practice and thought about how to present a trick well. Perhaps teach one easy trick one week, and encourage them to work on original stories or plots or ways of presenting that trick in week 6?

Just a few ideas...
Message: Posted by: robwar0100 (Mar 9, 2014 03:52PM)

Great insights. I am not sure what the ages of the students will be. This is a beginning class, so it might be younger. I was going to stay away from most sleights, except get into the French Drop when we do money magic.

I like the idea of the impossible knot, but perhaps I will move some Magic with Ordinary Objects into the first lesson and then add a Rope/String Magic Class and finish with insights into performance and showmanship. I would also like for the class to put on a show for the parents. Maybe this is done on Week 7.

Message: Posted by: Julie (Mar 9, 2014 05:58PM)
Hi Bobby,

If it's youngsters you'll be teaching, there's a Cub Scout Book of Magic (I THINK that's the title) you can find used for around $10 or less.
This might be useful and it has illustrations suitable for the younger students.

Message: Posted by: charliemartin (Mar 9, 2014 06:41PM)
How long is each class? I would teach some sleights and routines one week and challenge them to learn and modify and come back next week and perform. Critique and let the other students workshop the ideas.
Message: Posted by: robwar0100 (Mar 9, 2014 09:51PM)
Rob, Julie and Charlie,

Thanks for your suggestions.

Charlie, I think this class will be younger ones.

Message: Posted by: Julie (Mar 9, 2014 11:13PM)
Bobby, is this going to be an ongoing series of classes or just a one-time event?

Message: Posted by: Robin4Kids (Mar 10, 2014 09:01AM)
Here's a link to a thread that may be helpful.
Message: Posted by: Zephury (Mar 10, 2014 01:51PM)
It will be hard to market a class for a large group of people..

As someone said before me, people's interests in magic can vastly effect what they enjoy doing with you or not. You've got to see who you will be teaching first and ask them what they'd like to learn. If it's 6 weeks, once a week.. I'd recommend typing up 12 or so subjects and having them vote.. Here's some ideas on things to teach

Street Card magic that's in the hands.
Tabled Card magic with a mat, self working
Tabled card magic with a mat, sleight of hand (If they're interested in the whole sleight of hand aspect as appose to self working, there you go)
Rope (Professor's nightmare)
Rope (Cut and restored) maybe put the two together..
Sponge Balls

With cards if they do anything sleight of hand related, I'd recommend 2-3 classes at least to be dedicated to cards. One with false cuts and shuffles (not shuffled and shuffled) Another with common sleights.. A double lift, Marlo tilt, whatever, and the last actually teaching a few basic effects.. If it were sleight of hand; Red hot mama, here then there, Dr. Daley's last trick and so on.

It's not very likely that you'll be teaching much sleight of hand though, unless you get lucky with some aspiring talents.

You'll probably have to stick to the basics.. Especially locally.

Good luck though. I'm no teacher, but those are just my thoughts.
Message: Posted by: metaljohn (Mar 10, 2014 03:54PM)
I recently started taking magic lessons. There's four levels with 25 lessons each. Every lessons consists of 3 tricks (one of which is a card trick) where he performs the trick, then shows us how it's done as well as the the psychology and misdirection that can be applied to other aspects in general. The last half hour is dedicated to practice.

I can't say I've learned much with cards since my knownledge is far ahead of the rest of the class as well as the psychology/misdirection aspect, but I am learning tricks I would've otherwise passed up on such as Color Changing Knives. So I'd put that in there as well as sponge balls, silk stuff, rope stuff and Coin through hankerchief.

At the end of each lesson, he gives us the explination of the three tricks he showed us in class as well as a page of text that he wrote on various subjects such as performance, practice, audience psychology, misdirection, etc.
Message: Posted by: robwar0100 (Mar 11, 2014 05:51AM)

I am going to start out with a beginner's class with virtually no sleight of hand.

Then, I will offer an intermediate class and an advanced class. I will not label them as such because I don't want people thinking they have crossed the finish line and don't need to study and practice anymore.

Robin, the link was helpful. I have reached out to Tommy Johns and he wants me to call him to make sure he knows specifically what I want.

Zephury, I like your idea and maybe as I offer other classes beyond this introduction, I can incorporate some of them.

Metal John, what you are doing is probably much more involved than what I will be involved in, but it sounds like a worthwhile endeavor for you.

To all, I sincerely appreciate your feedback. If you feel like it, send me your emails in a PM, and I will share with you my class outline when I finish it.

Thanks again,

Message: Posted by: Julie (Mar 11, 2014 04:15PM)
Hello Bobby,

We've had some experience with magic classes for youngsters. One basic approach that worked well is to teach TWO tricks at each class.

One is a self-working trick to provide instant gratification AND that they can go home and show Mom & Dad what they learned today.

The second is a more involved trick requiring more actual practicing. The following class they are to perform each trick. The trick that required more practice will be refined and added to others as the classes continue, often times extending to other meetings for additional help from you. Notes on each are provided to each apprentice. Encourage each member to keep a 3 ring binder of his notes for reference.

Since your magic class will most likely NOT be their only exposure to magic, you may want to allow "open mike time" for each new magician to show off his/her talents at each meeting.

Prizes in the form of magic tricks are appropriate, too. Sometimes members of our adult magic clubs would donate some pretty good items to the kid's club to be used as prizes. These "professional" prizes give YOU an opportunity to perform for the group and give them an idea of how these should be presented.

As a special feature, invite other magicians from your local clubs to perform for the kids. EVERYBODY will enjoy these sessions. Often times some of the ol' timers will become regulars at your kid's club meeting and you guys can go out afterwards for coffee and to talk Magic.

Remember the main goal here is for the kids to have FUN and maybe learn something along the way, too. The self-confidence, public speaking, eye-hand control etc. etc. are all plusses. You're not trying to grow Vegas entertainers, but you are in the business of developing confident and well-rounded individuals. Accept the fact that most will not stay with magic now, but may come back to it later in Life.

You might check-out the S.A.M.'s Society of Young Magicians training materials.

There's more to be said, but the enjoyment you'll receive from the give and take with the youngsters will be more rewarding than you can possibly imagine.

Have FUN!

Message: Posted by: Tom Fenton (Mar 16, 2014 05:45AM)
Cups and Balls is a good way to learn sleights that can be applied to any small object.
Message: Posted by: robwar0100 (Mar 16, 2014 06:12AM)
Thanks, everyone.

The classes are coming together nicely. Tommy Johns helped provide some guidance and advice, too.

Thank you all.

Message: Posted by: Yellowcustard (Mar 19, 2014 03:58PM)
I would just add a section on performance skills. Also have a young local working pro come and speak to the kids to show it is possible to make a living from this.

Once the first course is complete you might want to host a VIP night for the parents of the kids. The kids could do the magic. Dose not have to be stage could be walk round or have a table were the parents sit around and each kid dose a trick. At this event invite local magicians and variety performers. This will make a great event for the kids but also be good to get the local media and local business trust involved.

Also make contact with groups working with youth in your area, I have had a local group hire me to spend a few hours with two young guys that like magic. it was greta fun and one of them is well ino it.
Message: Posted by: robwar0100 (Mar 19, 2014 04:57PM)
Yellow Custard,

Good thoughts. I am thinking about a show at the end. I like your idea about youth groups.

Seeing your username, I could not help but to think of this:


Message: Posted by: Roy the Illusionist (Mar 19, 2014 09:37PM)
6. Sponge Balls
7. More Sponge Balls
8. Even More Sponge Balls

Did I mention Sponge Balls? I absolutely love them! From the sleight of hand to the look on the participant's face when they see them disappear/re-appear. Every magician should learn at least one sponge ball routine. And many things learned with coins can be applied to Sponges, and the other way around.
Message: Posted by: robwar0100 (Mar 20, 2014 06:46AM)

I was thinking of introducing them in the Intermediate Class. This will be for 8-10, maybe 8-12-year-olds. Do you think Sponge Balls are appropriate for this age group?


Message: Posted by: HerbS (Mar 20, 2014 12:03PM)
This might not be exactly right if you are teaching kids who are very young, but I would consider including a tiny bit of magic theory. I think that question "what is magic" is one that is worth touching on. Stemming from that, I think it's also worth addressing characterization and theatricality in magic. I would also talk about practicing. Practice is something that is relevant in just about every endeavor, so even if your students don't stay involved with magic a discussion on that could help introduce them to some important concepts. So often we are focused on the end result of things, without looking at how the process of getting there can be rewarding in itself.

All that said, I'm sure you're going to want to focus mostly on teaching tricks. The Cub Scout Magic book that was mentioned above is a good resource for beginning magicians. It has a particularly strong section on rope magic. I have one that I would be glad to sell at a reasonable price if you or anyone else is interested. If so, please PM me for details.
Message: Posted by: Roy the Illusionist (Mar 20, 2014 12:47PM)
On Mar 20, 2014, robwar0100 wrote:

I was thinking of introducing them in the Intermediate Class. This will be for 8-10, maybe 8-12-year-olds. Do you think Sponge Balls are appropriate for this age group?



Yes, they are perfect. Ages 5-10 tend to enjoy them the most. Just make sure you have Sponges that are small enough for them to use effectively. 1 inch Sponges are probably good. Personally, I use 2 inch, but those are to big for them to perform with.
Message: Posted by: Julie (Mar 20, 2014 12:53PM)
Another great resource for progressive magic class lessons is the book Now You See It, Now You Don't and the second book in the series by Bill Tarr. Easy-to-understand text accompanied by clear full page illustrations.

Message: Posted by: robwar0100 (Mar 20, 2014 07:59PM)

We are thinking along the same lines. Will be teaching about showmanship (though rudimentary), practicing, KISS method and more.


Thanks for the feedback.


I have the first one, but not the second. Will have to try to find it.

Message: Posted by: robwar0100 (Mar 21, 2014 07:44PM)

For those of you who helped me with your contributions here and PMs, I want to thank you. I have come up with an outline for the class; it is not exactly what I initially planned, but it is close.

If anyone wants to see it, please send me your email address in a PM.

Thank you very much,