Since I started posting Magic Videos on YouTube I’ve been getting a lot of emails and messages from people asking for advice on learning magic. So I’ve decided to write a guide on getting started. I’ll mainly be covering ‘Close-Up Magic’ as that is what I specialise in but some of the general points will be applicable to those interested in other genres and styles.
So here we go, a comprehensive guide on how to start magic.
I’ve learnt magic through 5 main different sources: Books, DVDs, Tricks, Lectures and Magic Clubs
Books are definitely one of the best ways to learn. They contain detailed instructions on how to learn various tricks. The good thing about books is that you get a lot of value for you money. A £20 ($40) book could have anywhere from 10-50 different tricks and techniques you could learn.
If you’re interested in Card Magic I HIGHLY recommend you get Card College by Roberto Giobbi. These are 5 books on sleight of hand with cards and will give you a huge overview of the techniques in magic. They start basic, with how to properly hold a deck of cards and then get gradually more advanced. These books are the best way to get started in Card Magic and are my number one recommendation. (I’ll cover where you can buy magic later on.)
If you're interested in Mind Reading get 13 Steps To Mentalism by Corinda. I can’t think of any professional mind reader that wouldn’t recommend them.
If you want to get really good at magic, books on presentation are a must. A lot of magicians can’t be bothered with these. It just depends on how serious you are about magic and if you want to be a really strong performer or that guy who’s pretty good at card tricks.
My personal favourites are: Maximum Entertainment by Ken Weber, Absolute Magic by Derren Brown and Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz. I’d read them in that order. If you choose to read these books you’ll get good so much faster and ultimately become a much better performer.
DVDs are another excellent way to learn. Very easy to learn from as you’re getting visual instructions. However I still recommend books over DVDs. Why? Because you get more value for money with books (more tricks for your buck) and with DVDs you can risk copying the performers style. You have an awesome personality, don’t become a second-rate David Blaine when you can be one a first-rate version of yourself! Don’t make the same mistakes I have and adopt a different personality for every trick depending on which magician you learnt it from!
On The Spot and Off The Cuff by Gregory Wilson are two fantastic DVDs teaching magic with everyday objects. This is the kind of magic you’ll be able to do when you're out and about with mates and you don’t have any ‘props’ on you. Also the tricks are damn good! I highly recommend these DVDs.
I also recommend Function 9 by Calen Morelli. This guy’s got some really good tricks and these DVDs are excellent. His magic is also very modern. I’d ease yourself in with Greg’s stuff first though.
This is what most new magicians are drawn too. Be very, very careful with buying individual tricks (or 1 trick DVDs). I have personally wasted hundreds and hundreds of pounds on individual tricks. It’s not worth it, most of them seem like they are going to be the best thing you’ve ever bought but are actually terrible. When you're starting out, my advice is to avoid individual tricks like the plague until you’re a little more fine tuned with what’s going to be worth getting. Same goes for trick decks of cards… Avoid, avoid, avoid. I’ve seen one new magician do a whole act when he switched decks between each trick. It’s not good.
Before buying individual tricks google them for reviews. The Magic Cafe is a great forum to hear some honest opinions on tricks. I pretty much only use the cafe to check out trick reviews as I think it’s not a good habit to surf these forums too often. But hey that’s just my opinion, hundreds will disagree.
There are various magic clubs and magic conventions that you can go to learn magic. These are an excellent way to learn, you’ll learn so much magic at a convention you’ll be overwhelmed. One of the reasons I had such a good start in magic is because of The International Magic Festival at South Shields (Thanks Dad, and thanks Martin Duffy!) and The Session Convention (Thanks again Dad, and thanks Andy Gladwin!).
Saying that magic conventions do have their draw backs… Be careful of the following:
- There will be magic dealers and the temptation to buy individual tricks will be overwhelming.
- Many magicians have bad habits that you may pick up on.
Saying that though conventions are an excellent way to go. Google ‘Magic Conventions’ to find them in your area.
Magic Clubs are a great way to meet magicians and learn magic. I joined The Junior Northern Magic Circle as a kid and it was a great place to meet magicians and practice. The only thing I’d warn about magic clubs is that because you’re hanging around with a lot of magicians, it can be tempting to learn tricks for the sake of impressing other magicians. Always remember that non-magicians are your target audience.
Should you learn magic from YouTube Tutorials?
Short answer: No. Learning from the books and DVDs mentioned is a much better option. It may be free to learn on YouTube but you tend to learn from inexperienced magicians wanting a lot of views. You’ll also be learning other magicians tricks, but taught badly. Much better to support our industry by learning from the original creators.
Where should I buy my magic?
You can google ‘Magic Shops’ and if you're lucky you’ll find a local shop. Alternately there are many online dealers.
I hope this has been helpful. I’ll update this post if I think of anything else to add. If you’ve got any questions leave a comment and i'll do my best to answer. If you haven’t already, check out my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/StevenBridgesTV