Getting Started in Magic - a disorganised guide!

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Getting Started in Magic - a disorganised guide!

Postby Farlsborough » Jun 14th, '06, 19:58

This may well crash and burn but here goes :twisted:
This thread (which I'm hoping the mods will make sticky) is for the purpose of guiding newcomers to both magic and to TalkMagic towards learning the basics - starting the journey - putting one foot on the ladder, however you want to say it. It is both for them, in the sense that it will hopefully be a useful resource, and for others, who maybe getting tired of a new topic every day saying "how do I learn this?" or "how do I become the next David Blaine?".

Here is "the code" ("argh, they're more like... guidelines..."):

For the "seekers":
1) Part of learning magic is to do some leg work, reading and research for yourself. That is what the information on this thread will hopefully help you to do - it is not so you can sit on your hiney and get other folks to do the hard work for you :wink:
2) The advice from anyone on this forum is almost certain to be "start at the beginning/with the basics" - so please, don't just ignore whatever's on here and start a topic about how to be Blaine - this thread's purpose is partially to answer that post before you ask it!
3)This forum hosts different people with different styles - please don't get annoyed or confused if two people disagree over a particular resource - choose yourself or perhaps PM someone for more detail. Use your nog, basically :P

for the "guiders":
1) Please be as concise and objective as possible. If you disagree with a poster's advice before you, please say things like, "I actually struggled with X and found Y much better", rather than "X is rubbish" - different people learn in different ways.
2) Something to try: put Cards, Close-up, Coins, Mentalism etc in bold and perhaps even in colour when you recommend something - that way should this thread get long people can scroll through to find recommendations that they're interested in.
3) This doesn't necessarily have to be just for be just for beginners - if you've got good recommenadations for more advanced books, give those too - just make sure you make it clear what level you recommend it for.
4) Feel free to "second" recommendations - that way folk can see how popular something is. Also to add further detail, such as "X is good but not many illustrations". In these instances, naming the resource you are referring to rather than rely on position of the post would be a good idea.

for everyone:
I'm hoping people can refer others here; as such, I suggest we keep off-topic posts or even "pleasantries" to a minimum - there are plenty of other threads for the "cheers mate" "lol" type stuff, but if this thread actually ends up working ( :roll: ) it could get a bit clogged with banter if we're not careful.

Let's just see if this works, shall we?! :D


Postby Pitto » Jun 14th, '06, 20:04

Close-Up magic is anything done close to the spectators - usually at most 3 feet. Often the magic is none with coins, cards, sponge balls, finger rings - items which fit in the pocket. Anytthing is Close - Up magic which can be be done up close.

Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic - While this isn't only Close-Up it is IMHO required reading

Coin Magic

JB Bobo's Modern Coin Magic

Card Magic

The Royal Road to Card Magic book or DVD
Born To Perform Card Magic DVD

When you have finished the above I would strongly suggest, as a close-up magician, getting hold of a copy of Eugene Burger's "The Perfromance of Close-Up Magic"

Finally I would advise working through at least one DVD or book before buying one off tricks or gimmicks as you will have more of an idea how things work and what suits YOU and will not spend money on tricks you never use. I wasted a lot of money like that.

Hope that's helpful.

(that the idea?)


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Postby Tenko » Jun 14th, '06, 20:55


Everyone spends money on tricks they don't use, its a part of being a magician I'm afraid :?


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Postby Pitto » Jun 14th, '06, 20:57

It is possible to avoid doing it too often I know now that I wouldn't have bought a stage trick because I didn't know what "stage" really meant from a practical point of view


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Postby Pitto » Jun 14th, '06, 20:59

The following post is replicated from magic bunny with the kind permission of Mike Jay, it is, in my view excellent advice and well worth a read when starting close up. Once again thanks Mike.


The following post, and the ensuing thread, are for the beginner in close-up magic. Herein you will find a guide to springboard you to the close-up work that you should peruse prior to attempting more difficult work in this fascinating field of magic.

What is close-up magic? This is an intimate form of magic wherein the audience is very small, normally one to five spectators and the magic happens right in front of them, oftentimes in their hands and not the magician's hands.

What items, or props, are used in close-up magic? The beauty of close-up magic is that it is not dependent on large props to perform. A deck of cards, some rubber bands, a couple of sponge balls and some coins (all of which fit easily into the pockets) are all that the performer needs to put on a performance of great length. The items previously stated are not an exhaustive list - any small item or items can be used. For example: A set of keys or a key; a napkin or handkerchief; a finger ring; etc.

Close-up magic offers the aspiring performer a plethora of choices in which way to go in deciding what to use in his/her performance. The following list is not exhaustive but designed to give the beginner an overview of where to start.

Cards (books):
1) The Royal Road to Card Magic by Jean Huggard
2) Expert Card Technique by Jean Huggard

Cards (videos):
1) Easy to Master Card Miracles by Michael Ammar
2) The Encyclopedia of Card Sleights by Daryl

Coins (books):
1) Modern Coin Magic by J.B. Bobo

Coins (video):
1) Encyclopedia of Coin Sleights featuring Dr. Rubinstein
2) Expert Coin Magic Made Easy by David Roth
3) The Revolutionary Coin Magic of Jay Sankey

Potpouri (books):
1) The Complete Idiot's Guide to Magic Tricks by Tom Ogden
2) Now You See It, Now You Don't: Lessons in Sleight of Hand by Bill Tarr
3) The Magic Book by Harry Lorayne
4) Cups and balls - available in both video and book format from Michael Ammar, or for a quick but intensive overview, click here
5) Art of Close-up Magic Volumes 1 & 2 by Lewis Ganson
6) Magic and Showmanship - A Handbook for Conjurers, Henning Nelms
7) A Book of Magic For Young Magicians by Allan Kronzek


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thanks for the tips

Postby hourminute04 » Jun 19th, '06, 19:40

im new and im really interested and want to work for a career in magic. its hard work and i now have some idea how to reach my goal. thanks for being so great!

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Postby r34l1ty » Jul 5th, '06, 06:07

Hello, I am interested in street magic and I like the card/coin tricks (I am ordering Born to Perform Card Magic with Oz Pearlman tonigt) but I was wondering if some one could point me in the right direction for learning street levitation. I already know that the most effective street levitation I have seen is the Kings Levitation. I was wondering if there are any others that are good to get started on?

Oh yes and I'm not looking to spend 300$ to make trousers, just wanted to know if anyone has suggestions for beginners.



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Postby Scott Daly » Jul 12th, '06, 18:51

I'm new to talk magic and just thought I'd make a quick recomendation. Not sure if it's been mentioned before but I would seriously advise checking out all three volumes of Paul Harris's the art of astonishment books! They cover a wide array of magic and I can pretty much guarantee that there will be plenty of stuff to excite every style of magician! obviously you will not use every effect but I can't think of any book or dvd where this is the case, the main point here is that even if you deem an effect unsuitable for you there is a lot to learn from reading through the methods ETC. one final thing is that If you are new to magic and sleight of hand, these books would probably frustrate the hell out of you!!! But if you are seeking moments of "white light astonishment" check these out! the books are quite expensive so for the sake of "damage limitation" I think book 2 is the place to start (strange as that sounds)!

If anyone has the books or checks them out, let me know what you think and which effects have you used succesfully, just out of intrest!!

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Postby pdjamez » Jul 26th, '06, 14:18

May as well join in: see the article I posted on my blog Card Magic Essentials.

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Postby Stephen Ward » Jul 27th, '06, 22:39

I have noticed in the past and get many emails asking 'how do i start in magic'. This essay started because of an email i received the other day. A new person to magic wanted to be able to perform for friends at parties. This person told me the list they 'had to buy' and i was shocked! it came to £700. So here goes.

1. 'I want to be like Criss Angel' You are yourself (as Craig said in another essay). Don't try to be a carbon copy of someone else, be original and be yourself. You must remember that these famous magicians have a huge budget and years of experience in the business. The companies who book magicians always like to see something different. Being yourself is great and who knows, one day people might want to be the next you!

2. 'I need to spend lots of money in magic shops to start' What a load of rubbish that is. I started with the Royal Road to card magic BOOK, two decks of bicycle cards and some sponge balls. Your local library may have some books to recommend for you. If you want to be modern and have a DVD then try to go for 'Born to Perform' or the 'Royal Road to card magic' DVD set.

3. 'How do i practise the moves' Practise in front of a mirror or film yourself with a video camera. You get a good view of what the audience sees.

4. 'When can i start charging people for my act'. This is a real bug bear of mine. Too many people try to run before they can walk. Anybody can go into a magic shop, buy some tricks and call themselves a magician. Magic is not about tricks, it is about people and how you interact with them. You are an entertainer and need to make sure the audience have a good time. Never advertise your act until you have a full act that has been practised and you are confident with. A bad act could really affect later bookings if word gets round in your area. When you are at a booking you are doing so much more than magic. For example when you work a restaurant you are providing business for the owner, you help distract the customers if the meal is late etc.

5. 'You say don't spend a lot of money on tricks but you do' What you have to remember is that working and professional magicians are buying effects as tools. This is how we earn our money. So don't try to keep up with all the latest trends.

6. 'What tricks should i learn' This depends on the magic you like. I would suggest starting with a few card and coin tricks. These will give you important skills in sleight of hand that will prove invaluable at a later date. Take your time learning the effects and enjoy what you do. There is no rush at all. Slowly work through the book or DVD and don't move on to the next section until you are confident with the last. Can you perform the trick while standing over a table, while talking to people etc. It is not a race to see who can finish the book or DVD first you know!

7. 'I am shy and don't know what to say to people' Practise your patter in front of mirror. Keep on saying it until you can do it in a clear and confident manner.

8. 'Isn't it easier to buy self-working tricks' I don't agree with this at all. Ok it is fine to have a few but too many people depend on them. These kind of tricks teach you nothing about magic. You don't learn any skills with them and it can work out more expensive. If you have good card skills then you can pick up a card book or DVD with say 20 tricks on for the same price as a couple of 'self-workers'.

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Postby Gerald Edmundson » Aug 26th, '06, 14:05

Terrific ideas on this subject! Allow me to add a few thoughts:

The “information explosion” in magic has been positive in many ways, but also has caused some problems. It seems that many folks have quickly become “experts” and are publishing DVDs, books and e-books. You’ll find good advice, you’ll find nonsense. There is such a wide variety of information available, a newcomer can become overwhelmed. Knowing how to separate the good from the bad is not easy.

Let me make these suggestions:
First, study and learn to apply the axioms of the art; the age-old concepts which have stood the test of time. Study the classic texts (Maskelyne & Devant, Nelms, Fitskee, Tarbell, etc.) Many modern magic enthusiasts consider these works “old hat” and outdated. This simply is not true. The language may be outdated, but the wisdom in these books is timeless.

Second, this has been said many times, but bears repeating: learn a few tricks very well. Prepare ALL the necessary elements for successful performance with these few tricks. Learning the mechanics of a trick and hoping you’ll think of something clever to say when you try to perform it is a recipe for failure. Scripting, blocking, planning the misdirection, projecting your personality etc. are more a part of successful performance than knowing the mechanics.

Third, find a qualified mentor. This person will most likely not be a member of your local magic club. Nothing against magic clubs, but you need a professional performer who has years of performing experience and knows the venue which interests you. This person must be really good at what he/she does. You’ll have to have done serious work on your own if you expect a person of this type to help you. It won’t be easy to find someone like this who is willing to help you, but your efforts will be rewarded.

With performing experience, you will reap the rewards of your detailed preparation. If you keep your eyes, ears and most importantly, your mind open, you'll learn much from your experience performing. If you undergird your performance with systematic, creative, intelligent preparation and guidance from a mentor, you’ll have a chance of becoming a good performer.

Can you become a successful entertainer without following a process such as this? Sure, anything is possible. But you’ll save yourself a lot of time, money and heartaches if you get the background you need.

With experience, you’ll discover there are few good, excellent new mechanical marvels, books, techniques and “moves”, but you’ll also value the direct, deceptive, versatile classic methods which have stood the test of time.

Thanks for considering my thoughts.



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a personal veiw

Postby connor o'connor » Aug 26th, '06, 20:12

hi there, I remember well when I started magic, and here are a few of my mistakes.
firstly learn the tricks you buy well, when you think you have learnt them, learn them some more. try to learn them until you do not even think about how you are doing the trick because....
It is not the trick that is important, so you will need all your brain power to concentrate on something else... the performance, your patter, your interaction with the audiance. practice saying the patter out loud, to yourself. I garentee when you do this you will make mistakes with your magic, so practise somemore.
secondly when you have done this with one trick to perfection, buy another trick NOT BEFORE.(also don't buy book after book after the ones you have first!)
thirdly run through your tricks you have learnt on a regular basis, I do it every couple of days quickly so I don't forget.
fourth don't buy 4 trick decks of cards. when you do the first card trick they will say do another. Ok you say let me just put my 'ordinary' pack of cards back in my pocket and take the same 'ordinary' deck back out again. It dosent work does it!
fith stay away from 10 second tricks. you've seen the sorts of things. If someone wants to see magic then they will want about 10 minutes minimum(even mates), or they will say can we see some more. 10 minutes of 10 second tricks is a lot of tricks. expensive and hard (not so much to learn but) to remember.
six whats wrong with old classics. They have stood the test of time and people like to see them again and again. The ones I have listed bellow also teach basic moves that will be of use again and again. For example the french drop is used in coin, sponge and other magic, you can't run untill you can walk. Learn to entertain with simple stuff first as it really is the entertainment that matters.
examples of tricks to learn are, sponge balls, cups and balls, rope magic, proffesors nightmare rope trick. Mark wilsons complete course in magic book is a must read. Also they following DVD's are good for beginners as they contain small routines that teach performance and eat up time. 25 tricks with sponge balls and flips rope magic.
Remember the magicians pledge "I will not tell anyone the secrets of magic" and "I will not show anyone my magic untill it is so good that it is worthy to be shown"
seven people will say I know how that is done. Do not say if they have guessed correct or if they have guessed wrong. Keep a poker face. Be polite but firm that you cannot say anything. Trust us, these people don't want to know how it is done, they just need something to say as hopefully they are in happy shock at what they have just seen :P

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Postby brainwashed2046 » Sep 18th, '06, 04:31

i am new to magic, i would be very grateful if u could answer me the following questions:

Have u heard of COIN THRU THE BOTTLE by Kevin parker and coin thru soda can by Criss angel I am planning to buy them but do u think the tricks r too much 4 a completely beginer like me???


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Postby connor o'connor » Sep 18th, '06, 19:09

dear brainwashed, welcolme to our little world

If you go to reveiws you may find what you wish for

I had a quick look for you, I used the search function, found at the top of each page and just typed "coin through"

from the list produced you will see which threads are from the reveiw section. these reveiws should have a difficulty rating for the trick, you proberbly should go for a 1 or 2 level.
Make sure you read all posts on all pages as their were some realy great replies

Hope I have helped you find what you want

ps look out for the whats the best coin in bottle routine thread

Just one small bit of advise. If you are new to magic be aware that you MAY need to back up one trick with another, ie when they say do it again don't, do another trick instead. Always have three tricks in your pocket not just one, you may not need to use them but just in case......... :wink:

need to say goodbye before I go and buy all the coin in bottle tricks i've just read about :!: :!: :!: :!: :!:
good hunting :lol:

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Postby Twozwozer » Nov 9th, '06, 19:07

Heres something that really helped me... YouTube, Now I'm one of thoses people who learn better by watching insted of reading or listining. But when I was on YouTube I found some very good magic videos (and some not to brill) Ive also found LOADS of tutorials for all sorts of magic tricks. So I reckon YouTube is a great site for begginer magic, it helped me loads

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