10 Things You Need to Do To Improve Your Magic

1) Read more. It doesn't matter if you read a magazine once a month or a book a day, everyone can stand to read more. Magic Magazines, books, online essays, anything. Also don't focus on just subject matters pertaining to magic, but diversify! Read news articles, or journal entries. You never know when the next inspiration for a routine or patter is going to hit you.

2) Script Your Magic. Record yourself performing, and then write down every word you say during your act verbatim. Go back and edit your script. Cut out the clutter, refine refine refine! Then practice the new scripts until you can recite them in your sleep.

3) Video Tape Yourself Often! There is no critic more brutal, no eye more catching than that of a video camera. Mirrors are great for angles, but if you really want to polish your act, you need to see yourself work. Get a video camera, and learn how to use it. Doesn't have to be a thousand dollar high end camera, a cheap one that records video will do just fine.

4) Control What You Do. Be careful, be mindful, and be picky about the kind of material you put out to the world to consume, watch, and judge you by. If you're going to upload a video to youtube, make sure it's something you'll be proud of! You're only as good as your last performance, and if that last performance was a sucky video you posted to some social networking site, then it can hurt your image! Your name is valuable, your image is gold, PROTECT IT!

5) ABP. Always Be Practicing. Work on your familiar material too. Don't just master something and then never go back to refine it. You're not god, even trusted skills can get rusty if they're not used frequently. Foundations are important, so it never hurts to spend sometime going back over them even if it's to warm yourself up before you start some harder techniques.

6) Ask For Advice and Take It Seriously. If you're working on something, or performing something it never hurts to ask others what they think. Sure take what they say with a spoonful of salt, but do listen to the wisdom when it's spoken to you. Most of the time constructive criticism is aimed at making you better, not tearing you down.

7) Perform For People. Go. Out. Perform. Was a motto sported by Mexican Magician Luis Vega here on the forums years ago. And it still rings true to this day. You're not going to get better by performing for your friends, family, or webcams. Go outside and perform for real people! As many different kinds of people as you can. You'll learn some serious life skills that way. Like how to handle a crowd, how to watch your angles, what material works for your character, what material doesn't work for you, how and what to pack with you, pocket management, and of course how to deal with rejection.

8) Know Your Industry. You don't have to know everyone, but do make it a point to know who the active players are in your field, and who some of the important names were that came before them. Know their works, and why they are important. Stay informed! Yes it's Magic History 101 but it's vital to know these things if only to show reverence and respect to those who earned it.

9) Believe in Yourself. You are your worst critic. No one can be as hard on you, or as brutal as you are on yourself. So give yourself a break once in a while. Know that you are good. Know that you have skills, and know that you make a difference in the lives of those around you. When you stumble pick yourself back up and keep moving on.

10) See The World Through The Eyes of a Child. Never forget the awe or wonder you encountered the first time you witnessed someone doing a magic trick. Try to encapsulate that wonder every time you perform. Never forget what it is to be mystified, awed, and flabbergasted. Try to encourage wonderment, imagination, and the endless possibilities of life with each magic effect that you do. Elevate your magic from being just a trick to being something special that happened then and there for that special person you were showing it to.
 
May 9, 2012
202
0
New York
one problem with video cameras is that if they're not good, they can make things look better than they are. if you do a sleight on a webcam and it looks perfect, it may not look that way in real life. though it isnt that hard to get decent quality cameras these days
 
Sep 1, 2007
3,786
15
1) Read more. It doesn't matter if you read a magazine once a month or a book a day, everyone can stand to read more. Magic Magazines, books, online essays, anything. Also don't focus on just subject matters pertaining to magic, but diversify! Read news articles, or journal entries. You never know when the next inspiration for a routine or patter is going to hit you.

I would add to that, "Read more fiction." And of course, it's companion advice to watch more movies and listen to more music. Probably should add looking into the fine arts as well. Immerse yourself in art and creating it comes more naturally.

10) See The World Through The Eyes of a Child. Never forget the awe or wonder you encountered the first time you witnessed someone doing a magic trick. Try to encapsulate that wonder every time you perform. Never forget what it is to be mystified, awed, and flabbergasted. Try to encourage wonderment, imagination, and the endless possibilities of life with each magic effect that you do. Elevate your magic from being just a trick to being something special that happened then and there for that special person you were showing it to.

In an uncharacteristically schmaltzy moment for me, there's a song that reinforces this point while also illustrating why I tell people to broaden their artistic horizons: The Hunger by Oz melodic metal band Dungeon. Unfortunately, I couldn't find an upload of it on YouTube, but here's my favorite song from the same album. The theme is similar. It's called The Power Within. Seriously, just buy the CD if you want music that will make you feel ready to kick more ass than a fully automated ass-kicking machine with name-taking peripherals.

[video=youtube;1ivsgi1cxIk]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ivsgi1cxIk[/video]
 
Jan 1, 2009
2,241
3
Back in Time
I would add to the recording bit, that it's better to record yourself rehearsing an set or routine than it is to record yourself just doing a move 100x over (which can be painfully boring to watch.)
 

Reg

Mar 12, 2013
10
0
All good advice, especially number 4. Always remember your professional image. In this day of the internet, a potential client could stumble across your youtube channel, personal facebook page or even this forum when trying to find out more about you, so if you wouldn't want them to see it, don't have it up.
 

j.bayme

ceo / theory11
Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
2,811
263
New York City
Great advice in this thread - outstanding. For me in particular, item 3 - filming yourself. I remember when I started performing on stage, I would videotape my performances. I was so sure the performance was GREAT - the audience applauded, standing ovation, right? Wrong. I watched the video of my performance and noticed so many details unattended to - things I could have done better, improved, enhanced.

The way my clothing looked on the stage lights - the way I delivered a sentence from my script - a joke that fell flat - the lighting was too dark - the music was too loud - etc. By watching your own performance, you'll see yourself more through the eyes of the audience. And you can learn so much in the process.

Even today, when David Copperfield is practicing a new illusion, he films (and watches personally) every single performance. Every performance. On his iPad. Almost without exception, he finds something that could be improved - and making a real difference. Over time, through this process of discovery and self-critique, your performances will get tighter and more polished.
 

RickEverhart

forum moderator / t11
Elite Member
Sep 14, 2008
3,638
469
43
Louisville, OH
Excellent list and I would also add that if you can find a local IBM ring or magic club within an hour of driving distance...definitely join. You will be able to learn so much very rapidly and the networking is HUGE. They will probably only meet once a month so don't feel like it will not be worth your efforts. Most of the time they have great meetings, banquets, performances, venues to work, jam sessions, etc. My magic and creativity and networking went through the roof after joining my local ring.
 
Sep 1, 2007
3,786
15
Excellent list and I would also add that if you can find a local IBM ring or magic club within an hour of driving distance...definitely join.

I would add a caveat to that. Make sure the people there actually know what they're doing. I've heard plenty of horror stories of chapters where most of the guys were armchair experts. I recall the story one guy bragging about the big corporate gig he got to his IBM chapter that turned out to be performing for a hospital's nurses during their lunch break for $100.

Truth is, networking with other magicians really is kind of a waste unless you can find a large concentration of people who are actual, working experts willing to help. Otherwise, it's little more than a fan club where most of the membership is old enough to buy booze.
 

RickEverhart

forum moderator / t11
Elite Member
Sep 14, 2008
3,638
469
43
Louisville, OH
Very true Steer. Out of the 30 guys in our ring I probably only rely and listen to about 5 of them who have more working experience and knowledge than me. However, that being said, those 5 guys have taken me quite a ways so I felt it was worth it. I think every ring probably has their arm chair experts. Its normally pretty easy to pick up on who knows their stuff and who doesn't after a few meetings.
 
Thanks everyone for your kind remarks with regards to this thread ^_^. Thanks JB for adding into it. Every magic club does have their gemstones buried among the rubble, you just have to dig to find them sometimes.

I've outlined a few more of these 10 suggestion lists, I think I may keep posting these so long as inspiration to write them doesn't fade out.
 
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