If you want to be a better performer, you need to practice…a lot. But how do you practice magic tricks effectively? In this article, I will break down the three steps I use to learn a new trick.
The structure is the same, no matter what kind of trick it is. It will work for magicians as well as mentalists.
Ready to learn how to practice magic tricks more effectively?
Great, let’s get going.
Step 1 – Learn the trick
For 99% of the time, the first step is to read through (or watch) the instructions. Learn the basics of the trick. Go through the slights as well as the structure of the trick.
When you have that figured out, go through the trick from the audience perspective. What is the effect? What is it you want your audience to experience? What are the crucial parts you need to bring into focus? What parts should you play down?
Most importantly, you need to be crystal clear about what the audience should remember afterward. In his book Strong Magic, Darwin Ortiz writes, “at the end of an effect, your audience must not be the least bit confused as to what just happened.”
“at the end of an effect, your audience must not be the least bit confused as to what just happened.”Darwin Ortiz
Now, don’t me (or Darwin) wrong here. The audience should NOT be clear about the mechanics of the trick. They should be clear about what kind of magic effect they’ve just witnessed.
When you know the slights and moves and understand the effect itself, the last part is to learn the script.
Yes, I believe you should script your magic.
Not only will this give you the option to go off script when you feel like it. It will also make you more confident and less nervous.
To finish step 1, go through the trick from start to finish until you know it inside out. Performing on yourself is always the first action.
Step 2 – Practice Magic Tricks in front of real people
Once you know the trick inside out, the next step is to perform it in front of real people.
That might sound a little bit awkward?! The standard advice is never to perform something until you are completely ready. But there is a catch 22 in that advice.
You should not perform in front of real people until you’re ready, but you will never be ready if you don’t perform in front of real people.
The solution to this is to practice magic tricks with people you know and trust, and that you show magic to without fearing failure.
For most people, that means performing for their spouse or other family members. It could be members of your local magic club. Or perhaps a trusted friend who likes magic.
The key is to find at least three persons who you can practice in front of without feeling nervous, and where you can fail and start over.
This part is a big deal to grow your magic. Please don’t skip it.
Step 3 – Perform for free
The last step is fun, but sometimes challenging. I recommend you go out into the world and perform for free.
I don’t mean that you should take on professional gigs for free, but instead find situations where you can perform magic for strangers for free.
Finding places to perform is only limited to your imagination. Twenty years ago, the standard advice was to go to waiting rooms at airports and train stations and perform for bored people.
Since the cellular phone revolution, this is no longer an option. People are not bored the same way today.
A better way is to go to the local park and find small groups (or pairs) of people hanging around. They are just relaxing and often enjoy watching a quick magic trick.
Another place I have had great success performing for strangers is at the local pub. Just be sure to ask the manager before you bring out your deck of cards.
Finally, you can perform magic at your job. Jamie D Grant had a great solution on how to practice magic tricks. He used to have “Magic Friday” with his coworkers. That way, he could perform a new trick every week for lots of people.
Conclusion on how to practice magic tricks effectively
As you can see, there are only three steps you need to follow. In my opinion, the crucial step is to go out into the world and perform for real people.
Nothing will improve your magic as much as the feedback you get from a live audience.
“But, André, I don’t feel comfortable performing for strangers.”
I get it. It could be scary. But if you want to be a better performer, there is no way around it. Magic is something that requires an audience, and without one…there can be no magic.