Professional Magic Secrets*
If you came here to learn the magic secrets of tricks and illusions, then try a different site. You will find only information and help on how to learn to do great magic tricks.
The first secret of magic is for you to get a professional attitude. The purpose of this site is to make a real magician out of you. I want you to get professional skill even if you don’t plan to go on the stage. After studying all of the magic secrets and information on this site, you will be able to do tricks with the same skill as a magician in the profession. You must not be satisfied with less. If you want to continue your study to be a professional magician, you find the help you need with Harlan Tarbell and others.
I don’t care whether you are visiting this site for just the purpose of entertaining your own family and friends or whether you are going on the stage — you will be a real magician when you are through. There is nothing half-way about it –you are going to know magic. This is a key secret of magic. Learn the 24 critical keys to the art of magic.
Now then, with professional skill as your goal, first of all, get a professional attitude. By this I mean:
Study in Earnest
If you had decided that you were going to become a pianist, you would begin studying for that profession. You would take the matter very seriously and would give your time and thought to it so that you would know music thoroughly and could really become a member of the profession. Tommy Wonder is a professional magician who understands the art of magic.
You must regard your magic in the same light. Whether or not you actually perform for money, you are going to learn it as a profession. You should not view the study of magic as a quest to learn magic secrets.
Consider this website as your text-book. I give you the material you must know just as a piano book gives you knowledge of music. But I give it to you in such a fascinating way. You don’t have to dig for dry facts.
The lessons are written down just as I would tell these things to you and each move is clearly illustrated. I want you to be as much in earnest when you study these lessons as if I were there with you. You will gain an understanding of important ideas on premise, power, and presention.
To continue our comparison of Magic as a Profession with Music: In learning piano to be a professional, you must use the knowledge you get from reading and practicing.
In learning Magic, your video camera is your testing grounds. In it you see the results you accomplish. You see your wrong moves — you see your right moves. So with every minute of practice you get nearer and nearer the right method of doing the different moves upon which the Art is based.
Take palming a coin for example. Palming is one of the fundamentals of Magic. Every time you practice it, you do it more like the man in the Profession does it. When you see the progress you make in each day’s practice, you will be filled with enthusiasm — not only because you will be able to do the trick, but because you will know palming which is used in hundred of tricks. You will find real Professional satisfaction and joy in practicing.
You need to hone your magic tricks until they are mystifying and entertaining. Michael Close calls these polished tricks workers.
Don’t Overlook the Smallest Detail
Another magic secret is that you need to sweat the small stuff. 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.
Every professional magician knows this magic secret. He knows that the whole performance 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.
An important detail that is often overlooked is misdirection
Simplicity of Tricks
I want this fact to sink in: some of the greatest tricks and illusions are unbelievably simple. This is another important magic secret. Jeff McBride has mastered this magic secret in his stage magic act.
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 in China around 1735, almost 275 years ago. And now in 2004, I use this simple trick. In 275 years no spectator has discovered the secret of it. Yet it is based on the simplest move imaginable. When properly done, it is one of the most beautiful effect in magic. The cups and balls is another example of beautiful simplicity in very old magic tricks.
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 400 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 magic 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 magic secrets.
Naturalness in Performing
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 magic 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 important magic secret:
“Your Hands Must Be Held in a Natural Position.”
The amateur who tries to do tricks without scientific instruction always holds his hands very stiff and finds that his magic secret is discovered before he is half through with the trick.
You must study your hands on the video tape of your performance. Watch the natural poses of them in different positions. Practice with NATURALNESS always in mind. Slydini focused on naturalness in every magic trick he invented. His silk routine is a classic in magic and a wonderful study of naturalness.
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.
Uniformity of Action
In The Expert at the Card Table, S. W. Erdnase identifies another critical element in magic. The book was written for both magicians and gamblers. Dai Vernon, one of greatest magicians of all time, believed that the following element were among the most important magic secret.
“The inviolable rule of the professional is uniformity of action. Any departure from his customary manner of holding, shuffling, cutting or dealing the cards may be noticed, and is consequently avoided. The player who uses the old-fashioned hand shuffle will never resort to the table “riffle” in the same company; and vice versa. The manner of holding the deck will always be the same, whether the action is to be true or “blind.” In dealing, one particular position for the left hand fingers is ever adhered to, and the action of the right hand in taking off the cards and the time or rapidity of the dealing is made as uniform as possible. In cutting the rule holds good, and the true cut is made with the same movements as the “blind.” Whether the procedure is true or “blind” the same apparent action is maintained throughout.”
* unless otherwised noted the material was selected, adapted, and modernized from Harlan Tarbell’s Mail Order Course in Magic, published 1920, Tarbell Systems Incorporated.