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The Magic Cafe Forum Index Ľ Ľ New to magic? Ľ Ľ How to get started in magic (A How-to Guide) (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Aus
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The Tree of Beginnings

So you want to get started in magic huh? So where do I start I hear you say. Well you could pay a professional for personal lessons, do a course through correspondence or teach yourself. So there are as many ways of learning magic as there are color combinations to a rubix cube. So which one is the best approach? Well the answer to that is something that only you can answer, since different mediums appeal more to others. So this does not confess to be an approach that all must follow but rather another one to add to the list of paths that takes you on the journey into the wondrous world of magic.

You see much advice given to beginners to point them in the right direction, but little is given to show the right path. Many magicians ask new comers what area of magic they are interested in, in order to gauge the next lot of information they will depart on them. But for someone that has no bearing on magic, itís like asking a brick layer if he knows what cross stitch is. There are those that do know what they want, which gives a little step up from the others in the starting phase, buts its far from being miles ahead in your magic travels. But what do we mean when we say what part of magic are you interested in? Although magic seems to be a big encompassing thing; it actually contains sub categories that particular tricks fall under. These are close up, card magic, parlor magic, and stage magic. Even under these categories, even more specialist fields can form, but in general all tricks fit under at least one of the main categories or branch out as a combination of both. The first thing you have to understand about magic is that itís like a catacomb of rooms, which with every door that opens is a new area to explore. So to someone new to magic this can be quite an intimidating task to apply themself to and understand.

So the first task is to break down these categories so you know what each of them mean.

Close Up: This refers to the form of magic being performed at close quarters by any sought of object. Further sub-categories when venturing into specialist fields that form under close up magic are money magic, manipulation and card magic to name a few. Yes, card magic (and many others) is another major category, but from a close quarters aspect it is close up magic. You can perform card magic in parlor and stage but as you get into magic, you will know that lines do tend to blur a little which makes categorization harder. The fact card magic is a major category is credited to the fact that it has evolved over time and has created such a following it now warrants its own category.

Card Magic: As the name suggests, this involves cards which are playing cards, tarot cards, charismas cards and just about any other type of card. Card Magic is such a dominate branch of magic, people hunt out non-card effects in there effort to learn new stuff.

Parlor: Parlor magic is a mid point between close up and stage magic. Youíre not that far from your audience as in stage but not that close for close up magic. Some parlor effects can be performed on stage and vise versa.

Stage Magic: This magic is performed on a grand scale with audiences up to the hundreds and thousands. Stage magic is one of the most expensive branches of magic to get into and itís well advised that you study parlor magic as an interlude to this branch.

So there they are, the main branches of magic, so the next step is to find out the advantages of the different teaching mediums and which one is available and most suitable to you.

The following are a list of the different ways that magic can be taught:

Mentor
Correspondence
Self taught

A Mentor: A mentor is a person that knows the craft of magic well and is willing to take you under his wing to guide you in the learning process. The advantages in comparison to the other two options is that you have that person to person involvement and the ease to ask questions unlike the trial and error you will have to face learning with the other methods. Not to mention the camaraderie that comes with engaging with other people, which is an element often envied by those that have no other choice but to take on the other two learning processes.

Mentors can come in different forms; they can be professional lessons which are paid for or simply a friend working on mates rates (for free). I recommend you join your nearest magic club if this option is viable to you and hunt out a person thatís willing enough to be a guiding hand. Someone at the club may help you out for nothing or some will want to charge, which one you choose is up to you and your budget as well as preference. The first step to finding a mentor is get hold of a phone book and look at what magicians there are in your area. Some advertise in the phone book for entertainment and probably make a living from it, so they may be too busy to have the time to be a mentor for you, but its worth a try. In any case, if they donít seem receptive to the idea, ask them about the magic climate in your area and where you can find clubs and magic shops, and how to go about contacting them.

If on the other hand there is no magicians in the phone book, try to hunt a few clubs down with some of the best known magic organizations, like the following:

International Brotherhood of Magicians: http://www.magician.org
Magic Circle: http://www.themagiccircle.co.uk/contactus.shtml
Society of American Magicians: http://www.magicsam.com/index.html

Send an e-mail or a normal letter to the addresses on these sites with the request for the information you want and it should be returned with no problems at all. Itís also important to point out that all magic clubs donít have to be affiliated with these organisations and they could be just informal social clubs run by local magicians in your area. This means that you will have to seek out local information through local sources to find them.

Once you have tracked an outlet down to meet magicians, the selection process begins. But be careful in your selection of a Mentor as picking a good one and a bad one can make a difference. Like your parents, they play a big part in your upbringing of your magic life, and they shape the way you will grow up to be in the future as a magician. This link in the chain that I personally believe is the cause of bad and unethical magicians in this day and age, and with careful selection this can be avoided.

How to choose a good mentor involves a number of factors and the first step would be references. Like on any resume you lodge for a job, the employer will want references to see what sought of person you are, and in cases of mentors, there is really no difference. I would go about this independently from the person you have in mind, as who has references that give negatives on their resume these days? Having said that, I donít recommend being sneaky about it, but make sure the target person is aware that your interested in his services and if he would mind if you asked around for some references.

Now, the answer to this question can give great insight as to the person and what he is like. If he seems to be insulted by your question and sees it as an attack to his character you have to ask yourself why? Is his ego too easy to bruise or maybe his temper has become shorter with age (not necessarily the case with all mature aged magicians)? Is this the sought of person that you want to have teach you, if this is the sign of things to come? Donít be taken back by this abrupt response, as you have every right to know what youíre getting yourself into and in cases of paid lessons what youíre paying for. If however he seems understanding of you being careful he will have no problems with this question, and will be happy for you to talk to people freely.

Another way to level up the person is to engage him or her in casual conversation. Does he answer your questions with sincerity or with an element of disregard? Does he know what he is talking about in terms of magic knowledge, ethics and in general affairs? All this can be gained with direct conversation. In fact a combination of direct conversation and references is a great start to making an educated decision.

Correspondence: Many magicians offer magic lessons by correspondence which the student has to pay for. In return the student receives handouts which are sent through the mail and contain set work. This approach differs to being self taught because what you are being sent are structured lessons not inconsistent learning that can occur as with self teaching.

Like a mentor, you should check out the magician or sometimes the organization that is the source of the work. Itís also a good spot to point out at this stage that because one is a good magician, that doesnít make him a good teacher, in fact there is a great difference between the two.

Self Taught: Like correspondence, this is taught without direct involvement to an individual, and has more disadvantages than correspondence. The learning under this approach is under your own steam and dedication. The main problem is that you donít know what the fundamentals are to create the ground work and this can become a stab in the dark, if you want to learn them. Magicians often refer good books for a start, but give no start in the books for you to learn. But good beginner books often present there information in a structural fashion where information in the opening pages are built on in subsequent pages thereafter.

Also another problem that occurs in learning this way are bad habits, if you learn a slight or move in a wrong way, you will become adapt at doing it this way, and you will have no one there to make corrections. This makes reading and following instructions carefully more important. As you can see there are many obstacles in this approach but this does not mean you have to go at it alone. The internet has become a great meeting place for magicians all over the world to meet and share information, tricks and wisdom. There are countless videos that show performances of slights and tricks and real time chats that make questions answerable at ease. As the internet goes, itís your best companion, but not an adequate replacement for real people.

Learning this way exposes you to three different learning materials which are books, videos and tricks. Out of the three, books hold the most value for money, and this is because they have more information than a video, and obviously a single trick. Videos do have some values that a book does not have, and thatís visual and moving pictures that show precisely how the actions are to be performed. This limits misunderstanding and learning wrongly which develops bad habits as previously described.

Magic is an expensive hobby to get into, but a lot of information can be gained for free if you know where to look. The library is the most obvious of places where you can borrow books, not to mention the inter-library loan system where books can be loaned from other libraryís around the state. So the main task here is to identify what resources are available and to use them.

Now we have an outline of the learning process and the pros and cons of each, we can move onto the particular details of what to learn.

There are a lot of things to learn in magic, and no one person knows all the tricks and effects known to man, that would be impossible. But for you just getting a foot hold on whatís out there seems to be a big task in itís self. At this stage you want to know what suits you in terms of effects, and the best way to go about this is to try everything. In the attached book list there is a section titled ďGeneral MagicĒ which contains books which cover most branches of magic. Find a title and go and get a copy and try a bit of everything and take notice of what works and appeals to you.

Once you have an idea of what branch or branches you want to take up, you can start looking into the more particular fields like card magic, money magic etc. Every book is aimed at the beginner so your need should be well catered for. You will also notice a few videos and DVDís among the list as well, they are safe purchases.

Beginners Magic Books

General Magic Books.

Mark Wilsonís Complete Course in Magic
The Tarbell Course in Magic (1-8)
Amateur Magician's Handbook by Henry Hay
Bill Tarr's Now You See It, Now You Don't
The Magic Book by Harry Lorayne
Magic for Dummies' by David Pogueman

Money Magic:

New Modern Coin Magic- Bobo
Roth's Expert Coin Magic Made Easy 1,2,3

Card Magic:

Roberto Giobbi Card College Volumes (1-4)
Royal Road to Card Magic- Jean Hugard & Fredrick Braue
Close up Card Magic- Harry Lorayne
Tom Ogden's "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Magic Tricks
Ammar's Easy to Master Card Miracles Videos (1-3)

Magic Theory:

Magic and Showmanship, by Hennings Nelms
Real World Magic by Jerry Macgregor
Strong Magic by Darwin

You will also note in the attached book list, a theory section. This is what I feel is important and what defines magic as an art form. As you go on into magic, you will learn that knowing the tricks only accounts for half of a magicians effectiveness, so it also would pay the newcomer to look at a few of these books as well.

If you have followed these details, you should have found yourself a Mentor or at least a way to learn magic, bought your first book and found out what you have in resources at your disposal, like clubs, shops and library books. From there what happens to you is up to what you put in. Magic can be a great thing for social occasions among friends and family as well as breaking the ice with complete strangers. So I hope your journey is a long and joyful one.

Magically

Aus
Mago Mai
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Aus: Thanks for sharing this useful info...
Mago Mai
I invite all of you to share some of my magic on videos.Please, CLICK HERE
Dave Campbell
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That is one impressive post....someone ought to lock this up so it stays here for all to see!!
Evan Williams
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Wow what a post. Some great information here guys.

Thanks for sharing!

Evan
Brad Burt
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Hello All:

A truly first class post! Congrats to the author.

Brad Burt
Brad Burt
Robert52
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That was such a great post that I printed it for future reference! -Thanks Aus -Great imformation
Brian Lehr
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Ditto to what the others said.

As a follow-up, it would be a good addition if someone could do a write-up (if not done so already) on the various venues that a new magician might explore. i.e.: Should I focus on children's magic or adult magic? Where can a magician perform, and what are the pros and cons of each? -- Birthday parties, trade shows, restaurants, on the street, business gatherings, etc.

Brian
Maky
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Is there a post or topic about these abbreviations? For example:
RRTCM = Royal Road to Card Magic
ID = Invisible Deck
etc.
I still forget lots of these and would like a place to check them.
PyroDevil
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Get a deck of cards, some coins, and some good books/videos. that's the best way!
Aus
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Hi Guys

I'm bringing this thread back to the front because the "How do I get started in magic" question is starting to come up again.

Magically
Aus
rcad
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Very good post, Aus!

I have started a magic course with a very good and entertaining teacher. I have to say that if you have the chance to enroll in one, do it! I think it may be even more critical for beginners. You are taught basic sleights and presentation skills the right way and can be corrected if you do it wrong. You can not get that from a book or a video. I simply can't recommended it enough!

But of course, reading books and watching videos/DVD are still a part of the learning process.

Richard
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious." Albert Einstein
jascx
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I think I must have been magically transported back to 1947. Card librarys? Regular mail? Correspondence courses? In between all the back patting, have any of you ever heard of internet forums?

I understand there are problems with them. I've seen two forums on these very pages concerning thumbtips. New people interested in magic, asking simple questions for which there are simple answers. Instead, they get witicisms and quips. Spurred by a paranoia of "exposing" an age old gimmick by merely calling it by the name plainly printed on every package. It is beyond belief.

In the 1970s, as I became involved with computers, I attended computer clubs and the like. I can imagine going to one and hearing someone say, "Oh, don't talk about the SCMP -- someone here might not know about it yet" or "you can talk about the number of bits but don't mention logitudinal-parity or someone might learn something they didn't know when they got here." Forums such as those invited inquiry into details and highly technical issues.

In like manner, information from a forum like this can potentially by far exceed all but the very best of other sources. Yet this misplaced fear prevents it from being used effectively.

I have spent much time on this and other magic forums. They all share this peculiarity while other internet forums, on art, science or technology invite inquiry.

I understand the need to protect copyrighted materials from unauthorized use, to protect the work developed by fellow magicians -- but to protect from disclosure what has already been disclosed on network television is self delusion at the expense of what would otherwise be a very good resource.

"There has been much talk of Magicians trying to keep the secrets from ever getting out. The truth is that Magicians have been sharing the secrets of magic for thousands of years with anyone who is interested. There are no restrictions to what can be learned about the Secrets,History or Art of Magic. There are clubs, books, magazines,conventions...and much more all devoted to magic and available to you. The only requirement is that you have an interest in magic."

- A quote from the World Alliance of Magicians

http://www.magiciansalliance.com/whysecret.html
Aus
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Jascx

Sorry, Iím finding it hard to find what exactly your point is, but if it was the value of forums like this one then I agree with you, in fact it was briefly mentioned in the original post. I do agree to an extent that there is a bit pedantic sometimes that we have to abbreviate or call things something else because itís very name could be seen as exposure.

Magically

Aus
Vanished Zauberer
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Well, hereís my two cents.

Magicians are trying to keep the exposure of tricks hidden. Obviously they do this so that people are entertained by tricks and are oblivious on how they are done. If people don't know how a tricks done, they'll probably enjoy it more.

This forum is a magician helping magicians of course. But somebody might come on to this site because they wanted to know, lets say, how David Blaine bit the loony or another trick that baffled them. By using abbreviations such as TT or IT, it keeps the secret away from somebody who isn't really interested and serious about magic and keeps them from telling others and keeps them "baffled".

If they want to pursue magic more, they'll put in some effort to figure out what a TT is. I want to learn about magic, and when I visited this site a few weeks ago, I didn't know what it meant. Eventually I figured it out. It wasn't hard, but it was hard enough that if I werenít serious about magic, I'd forget about it.

Forums are good because in order to figure out the workings of tricks, they will need to post 50 messages and earning the right to the banquet room. All it is, is getting magic into the right hands.

I hope this isn't to confusing, but I thought I'd post it.
"Stress is when you wake up screaming and you you realize you haven't even fallen asleep"

MagicTy
www.magicty.iwarp.com
jascx
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Thank You. I confess that I was more than a little frustrated last night when I wrote that.

Fact is, my interest in magic is genuine. I have more than a couple hundred dollars invested in store bought magic (which to me is not trivial) and some of that money was redundant; paying essentially for minor variations that included the same "tools."

Ideally, I could have used a forum such as this to determine in advance what to spend money on and what not to. As it is, one or two magic sellers will get money from me because of my interest in magic and my ignorance of the subject matter, rather than the novelty or value of their work.

In another forum I was induced to sign up for junk email as a precondition to access the more "advanced" information. After doing so, I found little, if any information of any interest. I'm not interested in playing with matchsticks and counting toothpicks. But, in the last 24 hours or so I've found some good information on this site. Even in the newbie section. A fellow explained the use of commonly available items to make invisible thread and magician's wax among other things. That discussion was very interesting. Other folks discussed handling hecklers. It is all good peripheral information, which I appreciate.

But, I would like to find good information on magic. Unfortunately, I'm not a prolific writer. I've written maybe 50 emails in the last year, for example. If I'm as diligent on this board maybe in a year I can get access to the forum you spoke of. Or -- I can break posts into several pieces -- or contribute useless prattle -- or maybe arbitrary questions.

Well, it's beneath my dignity to do any of those, so it will just have to wait a year.

Maybe I'll go to the library and check out the same books everyone else in town, who has an interest in magic, has already checked out. Maybe find a correspondence course. Start with toothpicks and matchstems... then in a few years maybe they'll get around to real magic before the next network television show divulges all the secrets they teach.

Well, in the mean time, I will have to do a whole lot of reading, between the lines, Internet searches and endless diatribe but I think I'll get there. I know a whole lot more this week than I knew last week.

Hmmm...I guess I'll be getting a whole lot more junk email than last week too.

(This is actually my third post but it says second)
Aus
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Jascx

If advise on things to buy is your main concern, then may I also point you to the "Buying Magic (A how-to Guide)" at the top of the "New to Magic" Forum, you will find more advise there as to buying wisely.

I can understand you being angry about finding this stuff out after the fact it could have helped you the most, but I guess that was just bad luck. It is a rising problem these days that interests of the customer fall wayside to the call of the big dollar, so in many respects you have to look out for number one these days, and that's yourself. If your not happy with their service, protest the way it will hurt them the most, and that's with your feet (walk away).

Magically

Aus
jascx
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Many of the topics had "locks" on them, Aus. But that's not the case now. My browser generally has "cookies" disabled. I enabled them specifically for this site but, I don't know if that had anything to do with the "locks".

Yes, there is a great amount of info available here.

Thanks.
pepijn
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This is really good posting man! so much info and a good idear starting it aus!!
smile
Aus
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Old as this threaid is I thought a great resource that nay help the new commer would be this like that was passed on to me from my mate Opie.

It expends on what I have said and offers further tips. Click
http://austinmagic.org/sam/studyguide.html
calexa
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Aus, thanks for sharing these extremely useful information!

Magixx
Optimists have more fun.....
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