Many of the details of Magic are so simple that you may make the mistake of thinking them unimportant. That mistake is fatal. When explained, these details are ridiculously simple. Yet, how mystifying to your audience! I need not tell you this. The very tricks which have completely mystified you are based on these simple details.
The Man in the Profession knows this. He knows that the whole Science depends on these small moves and poses. So remember, give strict attention to every detail of every lesson, and regard it with the same importance that the Professional Magician does.
This leads us to a discussion of the simplicity of tricks.
Simplicity of Tricks
I want this fact to sink in: SOME OF THE GREATEST TRICKS AND ILLUSIONS ON THE STAGE ARE UNBELIEVABLY SIMPLE.
Don't forget that you were once one of the spectators and believed these tricks to be almost superhuman feats. Now, when you learn how very simple they are, remember that to those who are not "in the know," they are still deep mysteries.
Do you know that some of the greatest tricks used on the stage today are centuries old? My Linking Ring Trick, for instance, was invented by a Chinaman in 1735, almost 200 years ago. And now in 1926, I use this simple trick. In 200 years no spectator has discovered the secret of it. Yet it is based on the simplest move imaginable.
There are tricks which are so old that their history cannot be definitely traced. Some were supposedly originated by the court jesters of France way back in the Middle Ages. Others are said to have been performed before the notorious Henry VIII., who reigned in England in the first half of the Sixteenth Century, more than 300 years ago. Still others are believed to have come down from antiquity.
These very tricks are some of the simplest in the whole art. They have survived the ages and their secrets are still undiscovered. These same tricks are used today to mystify and entertain people. What further proof do you need that the simplest tricks are often the most mystifying and never lose their charm.
The amateur most often has the idea that a trick must be very elaborate. He thinks that the method of doing it must be very difficult and that there must be great deal of complicated equipment to do it with. I want you to get that idea out of your head and remember that in the simplicity of your tricks lies their great power to mystify the other fellow.
Now we come to one of the most important elements in Magic.
If I can put across to you right now the idea of naturalness in performing tricks, I feel that I will have accomplished a wonderful thing. If you attempt to put any bit of Magic over with stiff hands, for instance in palming a coin, it would take but a minute for your audience to expose your secret. Your audience will know at once that you have something concealed in your hand if it is held in an unnatural position. Their attention will be drawn to the hand because of its awkward pose; whereas, if you hold it naturally, they will not even look at the hand.
You cannot hope to mystify your audience if you don't remember this:
The amateur who tries to do tricks without scientific instruction always holds his hands very stiff and finds that his secret is discovered before he is half through with the trick.
You must study your hands before your mirror. Watch the natural poses of them in different positions. Practice with NATURALNESS always in mind.
Most of your ability to mystify depends on Naturalness in the poses of your hands. Hundreds of tricks depend on Naturalness for their effect. So master it at the very beginning.
PRACTICE EVERY DAY -I have told you that most of the tricks are very simple. So they are. Some you can start using after perhaps only 15 minutes of practice.
But there are other tricks which you must study and practice for a few days before using them. It is only the amateur who will perform a trick before he is sure of it and can perform it in a finished manner. You must not allow yourself to perform like an amateur.
You know that "practice makes perfect" in everything. Practice your fundamental moves and practice your tricks until you are confident that you can put them across in professional style. Then perform your trick and you will have your audience talking about your remarkable ability.
Designate a certain period of time each day for your practice and stick to it as closely as if you were really attending a class at that time. Go off by yourself and concentrate on the lesson.
Always practice before a mirror. Practicing without a mirror is about as effective as practicing blindfolded. It will do you no good. You must see yourself as your audience sees you.
Your mirror will show you whether you are doing a move incorrectly and in a way that will give the trick away. You can see your errors immediately and can correct them immediately before you form a habit of doing the move wrong.
Do not look at your hands. Always watch your hands in the mirror. Never look at them directly. If you watch your hands when performing, your audience will watch them and you will not get your effect. If you look at your hands while practicing, you will form the habit of looking at them — a habit which you cannot have if you are to be a real Magician. So train yourself right from the beginning not to watch your hands.
Each day when you practice, pretend you are before your audience. This will make you do your moves in the best possible manner.
PATTER IS IMPORTANT -"Patter" is an essential part of each trick. By "patter" I mean the line of talk given by the magician to his audience while performing a trick.
I give you the patter I would use, but I want you to change it or add to it to suit your own personality. Remember, too, that patter must be varied to fit the occasion. You cannot say in a parlor what you would say on the stage. A joke that would be a big laugh in a parlor would fall flat on the stage.
Every time you practice your trick, use the patter with each move as I have indicated it in each lesson. In this way the patter will become a part of the trick in your mind, and you will keep up a running fire of talk without hesitating or laboring over it as if it were a memorized speech.
Sometimes the whole effect of the trick depends on the patter. The attention of the audience is diverted from what you are doing to what you are saying, and so you are able to get your effect.
You will find great enjoyment in making up patter for yourself. As you practice clever things to say will come to you and you will have a wonderful line before long. You can make your reputation on a clever line of patter.
BE SURE OF YOUR TRICK -You must expect to find someone in every audience who will try to belittle your ability as an entertainer and magician. If you are not sure of yourself, such a person can make your performance a farce. He may expose your secrets and make you a failure as a Magician.
Let no move of any trick remain unmastered. The less mystery there is to you in a trick -- the more mystery it will have for the audience.
BE SURE THAT YOU CAN DO YOUR TRICK before demonstrating it. With practice will come self confidence, ease of performance, and unquestionable ability to put it across.
NEVER REPEAT A TRICK AT SAME PERFORMANCE -Something you must adhere to absolutely is never to perform the same trick twice to the same audience during the same performance. When you have them mystified, leave them mystified. Don't lift the illusion. Don't break your effect by repeating the trick. What your audience has missed the first time, they will watch for the second time, and so may discover your secret. And then, of course, you have lost your hold on them.
So remember, never repeat the same trick by the same method during the same performance.
This principle plays one of the most important parts in Magic. You must know how much the audience can see when you are in front of them or when they surround you. By practicing before a large mirror, you will learn the various angles of visibility in relation to where you are standing in your performance.
You must study these angles so that you will be able to judge how your hands should be held to conceal things.
We will use "palming a coin" for illustration, as you will learn how to finger palm a coin in the first lesson. This is to teach you the Angles of Visibility, not how to palm a coin. I want you to learn the principle in this ease, not the move.
Hold your hand a few inches away from you at about the height of your waistline. Do not decide on a certain place you are going to hold your hand and then hold it there stiffly, but just let it take a natural position in front of you and that will be right.
Practice with both hands as you must become equally proficient with each.
Now comes the study of at what angle, in relation to where they are sitting or standing, your audience can see what you are doing.
Here are the three basic positions:
l~When your audience is directly in front of you:
Your hand concealing the coin must be held before you with the back of the hand toward your audience and your thumb up. Shake your hand from the wrist at your side until it is relaxed. Then hold it up before you in this position naturally. You will find that your fingers are slightly curved and are fairly close together. When your hand is in this position, the line of vision of the audience strikes the back of it.
2--When your audience is seated so that they can see down into your hand, as in the balcony; or when you have a small audience of two or three very close to you, so that they can look right down on your hand.
Shake your hand again to get it relaxed and take Position 1. Now tilt your hand from this position, thumb end toward you, so that you can see the back of your hand at an angle, with your little finger farthest away from you.
With this position of the hand, the line of vision of the audience looking down strikes the back of your hand.
3-When your audience is below you and you are on a raised platform, so that they can look up into your hand. Or, if they are seated at close range and you are standing so that they look right up under your hand.
Shake your hand again and take Position 1 naturally. Tilt your hand in the reverse direction from Position 2 -so that you can see the palm of your hand at a slant and your little finger is nearest to you. The line of vision upward of the audience will strike the back of your hand in this position.
Remember to practice with both hands, standing in different positions before the mirror. Relax your hands before taking each position so that you will hold them naturally.
When people are very near you, this Angle of Visibility is very important. You must study with the aid of your mirror the amount of slant your hands require in relation to the different places where these people are sitting or standing.
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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.