Over the years, Paul has developed a system for learning magic that has proved extremely effective, and he sticks to this system, regardless of the size or shape of the effect or 'move' he is learning. We encourage you to study this approach and use it, as it will make a tremendous difference to the effectiveness of your learning.
1. Clear away distractions. Trying to learn with the TV on, music blaring in the background, or whilst doing some other task at the same time simply won't be effective. Create a conducive environment to learning, with distractions cut down to the minimum. You might even want to unplug the telephone so as not to be disturbed.
2. Find the effect or move that you want to learn, this may be from a book, a video, or perhaps a commercial trick purchased from a magic dealer. Fundamentally, the trick should appeal to you for potential inclusion in your act - don't learn a trick solely out of curiosity, your time is valuable.
3. Without handling the props, read the notes that came with the trick, or view the video. Do this slowly and methodically with the aim of gaining an overview of the presentation.
4. Again, without handling the props, re-read the explanatory notes or view the video again. You will always pick up on things that you missed the first time.
5. Break the trick down into its core elements, and write down the moves that make up the trick. Your aim is to remove the waffle or padding from the original explanation, so that you are left with a core, step-by-step process for performing the trick.
6. During all of the above and the steps that follow, should any thought jump into your head for the patter (that's the chat that surrounds the trick), music, or anything to do with presentation, write it down. It may be that you won't use all of these ideas, but one or two may well prove useful, and suit your style. Write them down, or you will forget!
7. Once you have your basic list, pick up the props, and start to work down the list of moves very very slowly, making sure that you fully understand not only how to do what is required, but also why.
8. Work down the list again and again until you feel yourself starting to flow from one move to the next almost without thinking. This will take some time, so don't rush it, and don't move on until you are ready. Be strict with yourself!
9. When you think you are competent enough, put the list to one side and don't refer to the book or video instructions. Now start to work through the moves both in your head, and with your hands. This is also where you must start to visualise in your mind what you look like to the audience.
10. If at anytime you find yourself hesitating, stop immediately and go back to your list of key moves, and work from the top again a few times. Then go back to rehearsing without the list. Once you find yourself able to go from start to finish without hesitation, and remember you are visualising what the audience is seeing, add in a little more imagination to your presentation.
11. As you start to reach the stage where your hands and body are performing almost without thinking, focus your attention on SEEING yourself doing the trick in your mind. This helps condition your mind as to what you should be doing in order to present the trick in the best way possible.
12. Do not practice in front of a mirror. If you do, you will find yourself staring at your hands to see whether you can see yourself making the 'moves.' That's a bad idea! 'Mirror magicians' frequently blink every time they make a 'secret' move because psychologically they don't want to see their mistakes. It's a bad trap to fall into. By all means use a video camera, and 'work to the camera' as if it is your audience, but then view the playback VERY CRITICALLY! Do not kid yourself, do not lie to yourself, do not praise yourself falsely.
If what you are doing is not perfect, go back to the very beginning and start all over again. That may seem unnecessary, but remember that audiences are sometimes very polite to your face, but very truthful to your friends and business associates. If you want to succeed, and have a solid career, you have got to be good.
13. By now you think you know the trick. Actually, you've only just begun! Learning a magic trick is a little bit like learning to drive a car. Let's explain. Remember when you first learnt to drive? You were hesitant, everything seemed new, and you weren't sure of how to handle the controls. However, once you had spent time learning, you eventually became skilled at handling the controls, so much so that it became automatic. You coordinated the gears, clutch, and steering effortlessly to drive smoothly and without thinking about the individual processes involved.
It is the same with learning magic. To begin with, much of it feels strange. You have to become familiar with how to handle the effects as well as coordinate your body movements for the presentation. But when you have spent some time learning, you will quickly become adept at the process involved to present each effect. You will learn the technical aspects of your new material to such a degree that it will become automatic to you. You will be able to interact with the audience, focussing your attention on them, rather than what your hands are doing. The 'behind the scenes' work will go on unnoticed, and that's exactly how it should be.
14. Learning a magic trick has another parallel in car driving. No matter what car you buy, there is normally something you would like to change about it. Perhaps it's the position of a switch, the shape of the gear stick, or the angle of the steering wheel. This also applies to magic. Often you will automatically notice things about a trick that could be improved. Even if you don't, you SHOULD analyse the trick to see whether it can be bettered. Can it be larger, smaller, heavier, lighter, a different colour, less inconspicuous, performed in a different order etc? There are many things that might possibly improve it.
This kind of attention to detail is exactly the kind of thing that will set you apart from other magicians. Some of the most successful magicians are the ones with inquisitive minds who are not content simply to learn an effect and then perform it.
Again, for emphasis, as this is a very important point, think about ways to improve every trick you learn. If you start learning magic with that mind set, you will get noticed much more quickly. The easy option is to learn an effect and then move on to the next one. The master magician however will spend more time on each effect, and develop his own slant on the handling, use of, and
Pauls unique handling of every presentation of it. trick has become his trademark
As an example of this point, Paul once took a small Tenyo trick of the variety that are sold in a packet, 'took it apart' and used the basic principle to create a major illusion for his TV series.
Another example that Paul recalls happened when Terry Rogers, a ventriloquist and magical inventor suggested a trick where a ring would appear in an egg timer. Paul thought it was a great idea, so he invited Terry to the TV studio on the day they planned to film the effect.
As is his custom, Paul literally took the trick apart and with his team, he considered every possible way of improving it. Terry had been watching, and was clearly getting a little annoyed at the process, so she told Paul that she had already found the best method for doing the trick. Paul politely acknowledged that, but said that he wouldn't be happy unless he had exhausted all possibilities. As it happened, in this instance Paul did change the method slightly, and it did become a better trick as a result.
After all the analysis, you might still consider the original to be the best way, but at least now you KNOW it's the best way, and that in itself will make you more confident in it's presentation. This is a key point to understand and apply, so please write it down in your notebook.
Later in this module we'll come back to this point, and use the age cards trick we gave you in Module One to illustrate this point further. It is one of the key points in the entire course so we make no apology for repeating it in various other contexts throughout the course.
15. Practice, Practice, Practice. You knew this tip would be here didn't you, and it's for good reason. Why? Even with simple effects, you need to practice performing until the 'moves' are automatic to you. You should be able to concentrate wholly on what you are saying rather than 'working' the magic.' There is no substitution for practice, even world class magicians still practice regularly.
There is another story about Jack Nicklaus. He was not playing very well, and one person in particular noticed that he was never on the practice ground. When questioned about this, he said, "I never practice when I'm playing badly, I only practice when I'm playing well."
How does that apply to magic? Nicklaus had a sense of observation of how he practiced best. You must be the same. Never practice without THINKING of what you are doing when it comes to magical routines. Don't just 'go through the motions.'
You should also practice the things you think you know. Johnny Paul, arguably the most entertaining close up magician Paul ever met, used to practice the top change (a sleight with a pack of cards) for one hour every morning, even in his 70's. He knew the sleight very well, but he also new that he needed to keep up the muscle memory that was essential to perform that trick smoothly. Don't get complacent!
So you have just read a detailed, step by step method for how to learn magic, looking at the learning of a particular effect or move. Let us now talk in much more general terms about the learning of magic.
It's important to set aside regular times to learn. Don't leave learning to chance, or it won't happen. Schedule a specific clear time in your diary to devote to it. Try and use times of the day when you are most alert, and ready to digest the information. Remember, this is a business, and you need to make quality time available. Frequent, short sessions are much better than infrequent mammoth ones! Aim for a balance with the frequency of your practice sessions for the best results.
Although by it's very nature practicing is often repetitive, try to make it fun. What is the point of slavishly working away at something that you are not enjoying? Everyone has a different attention span, and everyone has limits as to what they can take in and remember during one session. Stop whilst you still want to do more, as it will then be much easier to return to it later on.
Learn a few tricks well before moving on. A new magician sometimes has a tendency to try to run before they can walk. It is far better to learn, several tricks very well than 'play' with many, and perform them badly.
Another tip from Paul with regard to learning is that he continues to think his way through the move or the effect he is learning whilst he is sitting, having a meal, driving the car, laying in bed etc. He finds it a productive use of time that might otherwise remain unused.
Furthermore, Paul always visualises every segment of the effect, and thoroughly thinks it through. If a fancy move can be replaced by a cleaner, simpler method then that's what he will do. Being a wiz kid finger flinger (and Paul can do the moves) does not enter into his thinking, regardless of the effect.
The number one aim in a Paul Daniels show is how to make a trick entertaining. Paul follows the KISSATIT principle, an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid, And Think It Through!
Something else that can help you learn is to team up with a magician in your area, so that you can compare notes and be honestly critical of each other. "But there is no one in my area" we hear you cry. If you can't find a magician in your area by looking in yellow pages, then why not write to your local newspaper and tell them of your interest in magic, and that you are seeking a friend in magic. This could be your first step in publicity!
We previously suggested joining a magic club, and there are potentially many benefits to doing so if you find the right club. Paul however, believes that you would receive even more benefit from joining a local amateur dramatic society or operatic society. Why? Because most members of magic clubs are hobbyists, and are not interested in the business of making money. As a result, in general, they cannot offer you any means of improving theatrically, and you must increase your knowledge of theatre in general, particularly your body language. Anybody can do tricks; very few can perform them entertainingly.
Something else to keep in mind when learning magic is a point that we will drive home over and over in this course - it is not the trick or effect that is most important, it is the presenter and the presentation. Yes, it is the acting out of the 'play' that is the most important part of a trick. You can learn much about this by watching other magicians.
You should watch every magic TV show that you can, and critically examine each performance. Be honest about the performance - which aspects do you like, and which do you dislike?
If you like a particular performer, what is it that makes them appeal to you? Likewise, when you notice a performer who you dislike, ask yourself why that is. For example, are they nervous, unnatural, too uptight?
Put the knowledge you gain into practice to improve your own performance. You'll be amazed at what you can learn from simply watching other magicians perform - especially the bad ones!
Paul also recommends that you watch acts that are not magicians. Go and see live shows of major stars that have been around a long time. There must be a reason why they have been around a long time! By considering non-magicians, you won't get bogged down or distracted by magic, your aim is to focus on the 'x' factor that is the hallmark of great performers.
Bear in mind that television reduces every performance; you really need to be there and experience the live show, rather than as a TV director wants to portray someone. This is important - you will learn much more from a live show than you ever will by watching a TV performance.
As you watch these entertainment stars, make lots of notes. What feels so good about their performance? Why do people like them? Is there a construction of their act that builds to a climax? In other words, we are asking you not to just accept that a performance is good, but to break it down to see the complete construction of the performer and his or her material.
You can also benefit from reading magic related periodicals, learning from articles and tips written by professionals. Despite an article being in print however, always query it, don't take everything as gospel just because it is published. No one is infallible, and often there is a 'better way'.
Another suggestion that relates particularly to learning card or coin magic is to play with the props whilst watching television, watching the radio or whenever you are able to, so that your hands instinctively become used to handling such objects. Using your time wisely in this way will pay dividends.
You certainly have plenty to think about, and it's worth re-reading this section several times, making your own notes and stripping out the key points as memory joggers for the future.
You've now seen how to find magic, and learn it. We are now going to help you understand the basic categories of magic, which in turn will help you to consistently choose the most suitable effects to learn.
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.