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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Is Mark Wilson's Complete Course the best place to start? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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EndersGame
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While reading some previous discussions, I came across an older thread comparing the strengths and weaknesses of Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic with the introductions to magic from the Dummies and Idiot's Guide series.

Rather than dig up an old thread (although beginners in magic would do well to read some of the good advice there), I figured I'd post some of my own observations, since I have benefited from all three books. All three are truly excellent in their own right, and which is the best depends on the level of experience of the reader.

David Pogue, Magic for Dummies
Tom Ogden, Idiot's Guide to Magic

These are excellent introductions for genuine beginners, because they not only teach some very good effects, but have lots of helpful advice about showmanship and presentation, and walk newbies through suggested and suitable patter. Don't underestimate the contents - there are some super tricks here (e.g. Untouched by Daryl) If you are just beginning to discover magic and want a helping hand with learning both presentation and technique, then start here (of the two, Magic for Dummies seems to get the most acclaim, but both are excelllent).

Mark Wilson, Complete Course in Magic
This is more suitable for someone looking to take the next step from a beginner. It teaches a much wider range of tricks and is the most comprehensive, but it focuses more on the mechanics rather than the showmanship and presentation. If you already know some of the basics of magic and can already master some elementary effects and are familiar with some of the skills required for misdirection and good presentation, then start here.

Recommendation:
Mark Wilson's book is a fantastic complete course, but is best suited for someone wanting to take the next step in magic, and already knows something about the basic principles of showmanship and performing magic. Genuine newcomers to magic would be better advised to begin with the Dummies or Idiots books, in order to get a more comprehensive introduction to all the facets of magic, and then later progress to Wilson's book.
Ed_Millis
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I'm a big fan of the Klutz book of magic, because it puts props in your hand and gets you going with basic tricks that are the foundations of things to come. I imagine a high-quality magic set with some decent tricks (rather than cheesy fall-apart paper props) would also help for the same reason.

If you're never going to perform with props, then never mind - just read books. But there is something about having the item in your hand and learning to use it that did wonders for me.

Ed
Father Photius
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I've taught absolute beginners for years out of Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic. The Dummies book and Klutz books are ok, but I have yet to find a better text to learn from than CCIM.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
Spellbinder
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Jim Gerrish has amassed a large library of beginner books in magic for use by his Wiz Kids. Each Wiz Kid can peruse through the library before or after meetings, and can select one book to borrow for the week. At the end of the week the Wiz Kid must return with the book, and if no one is waiting to borrow that book, he may take it for another week, or select a new book. They also get to select a DVD in addition to one book.

The library includes the Mark Wilson Course, the Seven Volume set of Tarbell, the Magic For Dummies Book, a complete set of Karl Fulves books, and so on. The books chosen by most of the beginners are the Karl Fulves books, or books that go along with the tricks they are currently learning. They look at the Mark Wilson Book, Tarbell, Greater Magic etc. and say "Wow!" Then they wisely, on their own, and without any prodding from adults, select the book they want... usually something on rope magic, if they are studying ropes, or sponge balls, if that is where they are working, clowning books, etc.

I think their selection might be influenced by knowing that Jim will expect them to be able to show the group something they learned during the week from the book, and they stick with modest effects they are certain won't make them look bad in front of the group... but that's just a guess. I'm just reporting what was reported to me on the subject. Kids like Eleazar are another story... he's into everything and will borrow a Tarbell one week and an advanced coin book the next. I think he's the only one who has ever even glanced at Royal Road to Card Magic.

The most popular DVD right now is the Eddie Ray Instructional DVD (he shows some of everything) and big illusion shows like Lance Burton's, David Copperfield's, and so on. The Harry Potter movies are also popular. Keep in mind that they are passing up the David Roth DVDs, the Greater Magic Series, Card College, and so on. Go Figure.

Actually, what I figure is that they seem to know what they need and what they like and make their choices based on that. I'm sure if Jim gave them assignments of certain books and DVDs as they are given assignments in regular school, they would do them. I am also just as certain that more and more Wiz Kids would drop out of the program if that happened. Jim is very patient and is convinced that someday they will be ready for the "great works" both of magic literature and of Instructional Magic DVDs. Until then, they are just nibbling on a buffet of magic that they can handle and feel successful with.
Professor Spellbinder

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Andy the cardician
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Nice posting . . . agree that the IDIOT is easier to read, however, there are no other books in that style. A beginner might as well get used to the magic book style right from the start
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EndersGame
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Is it a fair assessment to say that Mark Wilson's Complete Course teaches the mechanics and technique of magic, but not other fundamentals like showmanship and presentation? (whereas the Dummies and Idiot's Guide books clearly do).
nucinud
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If you can buy only one book, Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic is it.
It is practical and teaches a lot of good stuff. As as presentation, that is the great thing about books, you need to use your own personality and ideas to come up with a good performance. As opposed to DVDs and Videos, where the presentation is mapped out for you.
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Bob Sanders
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The Mark Wilson course is a great place to begin. It is also a "keeper" in your library.

Bob Sanders
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Hoppini, the Mediocre
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I like Mark Wilson's. It's a little more focused than Tarbell's (mind you, its just one book compared to 8) and it gets you started with traditional magic stuff like ropes, coins, sleights, spongeballs etc.

Dummies is an awesome book...I'm working thru it right now, and it has some great advice about performing tricks, but it seems to take the standpoint of "here's some fun tricks you can do when you're yukking it up with your buddies" rather than trying to make a magician out of you.

I guess it depends what you want to get out of your magic endeavors.
Andy the cardician
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Great point by Hoppini. We need to mention the Tarbell course as well
Cards never lie
mrunge
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Still can't beat the Mark Wilson book. It will be a staple in your library and one you'll refer to often.

Mark. Smile
abc
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I guess the question would be better answered if you know where you are going in your journey to becoming a magician.
If you have a little bit of guidance the Mark Wilson book is by far the best. If you have no guidance and have never seen a magician perform and have no idea what magic should look like it isn't, but this can not possibly be true.
Reading a chapter or two in showmanship and presentation or even on misdirection is not nearly enough and almost does it an injustice. They are subjects that are exremely important and should be studied from more than just one book.
So in my opnion, you can actually put an act together out of Mark Wilson's book which is really what a new person needs. Then you can make studying showmanship and presentation a priority and become good.
So if I were forced to choose one book it would be CCIM but I think you need more than one book obviously.
So, is Mark Wilson's complete course the best place to start? In my opinion, Yes.
MagiClyde
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Topov, I feel that you are correct. While I find Mark Wilson's CCIM to be great for learning the mechanics of magic, it does lack in the area of teaching presentation. That's where other books, especially ones such as Maximum Entertainment and Win the Crowd can really help. It is one thing to know how to perform a trick, it's quite another to know how to present it well and in a manner that will entertain those who see you perform it.
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Lester
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Without doubt, the MWCCIM is the way to go for any beginner. I would venture to suggest, that it might be considered somewhat of a truism to say, that presentation is inextricably linked to personality and experience and those particular facets of magic, thank goodness, cannot be taught in any book or DVD. Individualism is all!

Just my 2 pence worth.

Lester
discostu
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I've recently bought both the MWCCIM and the Dummies books and I think there are good parts to both. But I feel that the MWCCIM will have more in it and will "go further" as it were. Saying that I agree that the Dummies book is a good way to start to get a "confidence boost" for the beginners or those who need it. (Myself included! Smile )

Stu
Hoppini, the Mediocre
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Heh...Mark Wilson doesn't teach you such gems as "how to bite your finger off and audibly crunch it up in your mouth." So each book has it merits. Smile

Dummies is a pretty fun read too. Niether is particularly expensive...I suggest buying both.
EndersGame
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Given that Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic is excellent in teaching the essentials of technique, but lacking somewhat in teaching the essentials of showmanship and presentation, how about using Darwin Ortiz' Strong Magic (see the discussion in this thread) in combination with it? Would these two books together perhaps make the perfect combination for amateurs to start out with, because with them you'd learn all the basics about both technique and performance?
sethb
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"Strong Magic" is a great book, but in my opinion it is not appropriate for beginners. I say that because they would not have enough knowledge of the magic effects, techniques and methods described in the book to understand what Ortiz is talking about. It's like trying to teach somebody calculus before they have learned algebra. A beginner could easily get lost in or intimidated by "Strong Magic."

But I think there are plenty of good presentation tips in the Wilson course to get anyone started. The introductory essays in Tarbell #1 and "Hugard's Magic Manual" or Henry Hay's "Learn Magic" are also quite good for beginners, and indeed, were written especially for that purpose. Once a person gets some performance experience under their belt and has acquired a general grounding in a few areas of magic, then "Strong Magic" will not only make more sense, but will be able to be utilized as it should be. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
EndersGame
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Good advice here from Seth, others have also remarked that Strong Magic does require a certain familiarity with various effects. Superb as this book is, it might not be appropriate for genuine beginners, so it's probably more suited as something for an amateur to graduate to when he's ready for it. So when is one ready for Strong Magic?
Hoppini, the Mediocre
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Well, I made my feelings about Strong Magic known on another thread. Bascially: not for beginners (this is from an educator's standpoint rather than a magician's) Unfortunately I have no alternative to suggest.

On the original subject: I've bought Tarbell vol 1, Mark Wilson's, Amateur Magician's Handbook (sweet used bookshop score), and the Dummies book. They all have their merits, but it is my feeling that Wilson's is the best of those for the budding magician trying to learn the basic moves. (If you want to study presentation, its good to have something to present...no?)

Wilson's and Dummies are the best illustrated and explained, IMO. Wilson's gives you enough to start a solid foundation without overwhelming you. Dummies has a lot of stuff that might be considered goofy stunts, and offers very little (if any) on sleights. Wilson's is far superior in that regard.

Anyway, my vote goes to Wilson's, though you'd do well to look at all of them.
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