Introduction: How and Why to Practice Magic Tricks
Please excuse the first image… It’s the first thing I thought of when it came to practice…
Anyhow, a question we get asked a lot here at The Daily Magician is a pretty simple one actually: How and why should I practice magic?
It’s a good question, and one we really felt we couldn’t give you our readers a half-assed response to, unfortunately, we stayed up rather too late writing all of this out for you… Which lead to this story, which lead to the actual answer to your question…
So I guess all’s well that ends well right?
I got caught napping this morning…
After a week working hard on a new project arriving at your proverbial shores in a few weeks, I figured I’d earned a little rest and recuperation.
So, when my extremely sophisticated alarm that requires no less than scanning a QR code to turn it off (true story—I’m a very heavy sleeper) started buzzing, I decided today was the day to cash in.
I turned off the alarm and returned to the blissful arena of dreams.
When I finally arose (at an hour so late I blush even thinking about revealing it) I leisurely swanned downstairs and grabbed a bite to eat.
Approximately 2 minutes into my late breakfast, I heard a sound that to my ears might as well have been a gunshot.
A knock at the door.
Now, perhaps some additional context is required for that sentence to have its full impact.
My usual morning attire consists of a sweeping grey dressing gown and, well, very little else. My hair—unruly and wild after months of not going to the barber—starts the day looking more like a science project gone wrong than something that’s supposed to attach to your head.
So the thought of opening the door on some poor and unsuspecting postman was not an appealing prospect.
However, there was little else I could do.
Frankly, I’d been caught napping…and now it was time to pay the price.
So, with trepidation, I opened the door just enough to slip a hand out and take the parcel. Mumbling my thanks to the postman, I quickly shut the door and returned to my safe place.
The whole thing was not the most pleasant of experiences.
With all that said, now might be an appropriate time to pose the question:
What’s the moral of the story?
How and Why to Practice Magic Tricks
Well, the whole thing made me reminisce about all the time people have asked me over the years to “show them a trick!”
Isn’t it one of the most curious aspects of magic that you can spend literal years practicing hundreds (if not thousands) of tricks, yet be unable to think of ONE adequate effect when called upon to perform?
It baffles me.
But nonetheless, it is most definitely ‘a thing.’
And if you’re not prepared, I’d dare say it’s worse than getting caught in a dressing gown by the postman.
Here are two ideas to get those gears whirring:
Make. A. List.
It doesn’t get any simpler than that, but so many people overlook it.
Simply put together a list of 3-5 of your favorite effects, and get REALLY good at those effects.
You can fill this list with other people’s magic, or you can create your own.
See #2 below…
Understand ‘songs vs chords’
If you’re struggling to come up with something, it might be because you are too reliant on a distinction I like to call ‘songs vs chords’.
Here’s what I mean by that:
If you’re a guitarist who ONLY memorizes complete songs, you have a limited repertoire. You can play those exact songs, and once those songs are exhausted, you’re all out of music.
But if you REALLY learn the guitar, you’ll learn each individual chord and the place that chord holds within the construction of music. I.e which chords go well together, which chord naturally precedes which, etc.
Soon, you’ll be able to string together chords in entirely new ways that are not only great music but entirely unique.
Even better, you need never fear getting told to “play something!” because you can, at any moment, CREATE music.
I’d wager the best magicians are the same.
They don’t just learn ‘tricks.’
They master the moves, techniques, and psychological tactics that make up those tricks.
And pretty soon, they’re able to put together magic that’s not only unique and original but often improvised.
As a result, you can be sure THESE magicians never get caught ‘napping.’
How do you do go about getting to that level?
In my opinion, you read ‘Expert Card Technique.’
It’s one of the most comprehensive guides to sleight-of-hand with cards ever written, featuring material from Jean Hugard, Frederick Bruae, Charlie Miller, and (many believe) Vernon himself.
The fact that you can pick this up for $14 (or $3.46 if you’re inclined to buy ‘used’) is positively criminal.
And I highly encourage you to grab it.
For those of you who followed my recommendation to pick up the ‘Royal Road’, this book is the perfect ‘next level’, penned by the very same authors.
It’s a tried and tested route to real mastery in magic.
Of course, the below IS an affiliate link.
(I.e. I might make a mouth-watering 0.02 cents per purchase.)
But if you were to buy this from your favorite magic dealer instead, it makes no difference to me.
All I care about is this:
If you don’t own it…get it, read it, and profit from it.
If you do…read it and profit from it anyway.
Therein, to quote Shakespeare for no reason whatsoever, ‘lies the rub.’
Go forth and profit from this incredible book:
The Importance of Internal Logic
Some magicians justify awful ideas (that make absolutely zero sense) by saying:
“But it’s MAGIC! The whole point is that it doesn’t make sense! It’s just part of the mystery…”
If that’s you, listen up. I’m only going to say this once…
The issue ISN’T that your magic is nonsensical. The issue is that your magic isn’t ‘sensibly nonsensical.’
Here’s what I mean:
I think we can all agree that many things we do in magic are pretty…strange.
Whether it’s giving cards names, pretending they’re attracted to other cards, or just straight-up pretending they get their egos fueled by jumping to the top of the deck under increasingly stringent conditions—a whole lot of it is just plain silly.
So magic can definitely be nonsensical. There’s no denying that.
However, individual magic performances ought to be ‘sensibly nonsensical’
All that means is that if you’re doing nonsensical things, you ought to be doing them in a way that makes sense according to the ‘rules’ of your performance.
The technical term I like to use for this, shamelessly borrowed from film critics, is ‘internal logic.’
It’s kinda like how complex films like ‘Inception’ can be both totally bonkers and illogical in relation to real life, but very logical according to the ‘rules’ of their world.
In our world, logic dictates that you can’t infiltrate other people’s dreams.
However, in Inception, you can.
Therefore, Inception doesn’t follow all of our ‘external logic.’
But it DOES follow its own ‘internal logic.’
For example, the deeper that you go into dreams, the slower time passes. This is nonsensical, but it’s one of the ‘laws’ of Inception’s world, and so the film makes sure it sticks to it strictly throughout the entire story.
It’s the same in magic.
Audiences are willing to ‘suspend their disbelief’ and let you share something with them that we all know is going to break the rules of our ‘external logic’ of life. However, they expect your routine to have its own ‘internal logic.’
So if you set a rule in your performance, you better stick to it.
For example, if their chosen card jumps to the top of the deck only after you say ‘jump’, you’ve essentially created a piece of your own ‘internal logic’.
I.e the law in your act is:
If you say ‘jump’, the card will jump to the top of the deck.
(note how this rule is completely nonsensical. That doesn’t matter! All that matters is that you stick to it.)
Now that this law and piece of internal logic is established, you MUST obey it throughout the rest of the performance. If you don’t say ‘jump’, the card shouldn’t come to the top, and if you do, it should.
The idea of cards jumping to the top of the deck is still nonsensical—but since it has its own set of rules, structure, and ‘internal logic’ it’s sensibly nonsensical.
Does that make sense?
Anyway, it’s getting late over here and I’m not convinced I’m making much sense anymore.
So, what do we learn from all of this other than what I’ve already said? The thing is, it’s all well and talking about a list, but what if you don’t have three tricks to throw together in the first place?
Well, in that case, nothing beats just stone-cold practice, take a month, take a few months. Really nail some tricks and once you have, well you’ve got your list. Then you’ll never be caught sleeping.
If you need more tips on that you can visit my blog post to learn magic tricks in 2020.
So there you have it, my post on how and why to practice magic tricks!