Pointers for Beginners in Card Magic

Discussion in 'Magic Forum' started by Mitra#008, Sep 17, 2019.

  1. Just wanted to put together a list of things to keep in mind when starting out. These are things or habits that you should keep in mind to follow or stay away from, which I've found from my experience (of the little that I do have).I made a lot of these mistakes along the way.

    1. Get familiar with cards

    I remember trying to perform a trick as soon as I'd opened my first Bicycle deck. The result was, I dropped all the cards on a wet floor, I didn't even know you had to break them in. Also, before you start performing anything, spend a month practising, if not more. I know there's an urge to show people something as soon as you get it right once, but that's simply not good enough.

    2. Get plenty of decks

    At first, you'll be ruining a deck every few days. For good measure, get a few in the start. A bad habit I'd often develop, is that I wouldn't replace old decks for a long time. The result was that I got familiar handling lesser cards than than the full deck, a nasty thing to get rid of.

    3. Get Books!

    Get a paperback edition of Royal Road. If it's interesting, great! If it's not, look into other forms of magic. If you simply can't make heads or tails of it, it's because books are generally difficult to learn from. A solution would be to get the first volume of Card College, which I think is the best set of books about card Magic ever written. Profusely illustrated, and hardbound, with simple, precise explanations, the books make it a pleasure to learn from. The only drawback is the price (40$), but if you're the least bit serious about card Magic, you need to have this. Further book recommendations:

    4. STAY OFF YOUTUBE!!!!!

    This is by far the most important tip I have for you. If you have no idea what the title of these so and so "tutorials" mean, don't even think of clicking on them. The"revealed" videos are pure cancer.
    Most videos teach you wrong ways of doing things, and you may find yourself learning something that's advanced, and not for your level right then. I remember trying to do the pass (yes, I am guilty) before I could do a proper double lift, all thanks to YouTube tutorials.
    That being said, there is some really valuable stuff on YouTube, but very little. Most of the time, learning from books is the way to go. But there are some videos, which teach stuff the creators came up with originally. There are videos, which will help you identify your mistakes, when the content creators cover some common errors. My favourite way of using the platform is to watch the best perform their best acts, and do their best moves, and learn from them. I've learnt more about the second deal from watching Richard Turner's footage in slow motion, than I have from all of literature.

    5. Don't buy stuff you don't need

    Video downloads are all over the net. Don't fall for these. They cost you a lot, but offer very little. The sad truth is, most of the trailers are heavily edited, or wrongly shown (applies to majority of Ellusionist products), or the moves seem easy, but are actually a lot more difficult, maybe much more than you can handle.

    6. Practise the basic sleights

    As eager you may be to steamroll through moves, the first ones you learn build your foundations. Take your time with things like overhand shuffle techniques, basic controls, the double lift (especially), the Riffle force, etc.
    You'll use them as long as you're in business.

    7. Your Hands Are Not Too Small!

    Perhaps, the second most important (YouTube being the first) thing to remember is, your hands are not to small. This is an age old lame excuse that seems a rational way if avoiding something. Hand size may affect how long you need to get something down, but can never limit your abilities. What takes time is to develop the right muscles. Once you have it down in muscle memory, only then do you start covering the nuances.

    Add your suggestions, more tips or corrections!
  2. I think "stay off youtube" is pretty bad outdated advice now that there are several established working magicians teaching stuff on youtube. Granted there is a lot of crap you have to filter through but there are plenty of crap videos and books out there too.
    Dylenium and Fenfool like this.
  3. I have a few go to people on YouTube that are actually quite good and teach things well, but I have learned the most from the Card College series and watching several At the Table live lectures.
  4. But this is not applicable for Beginners. They have no idea how to pick the good ones from the bad ones. I only go for YouTube when I can't seem to get a move, to see it done properly. Also, as I said, they may start learning things they don't need right then, there is often no clear mention of how advanced something is. It's best in the beginning not to go for these online sources. Remember, we are talking about people who haven't even finished with Royal Road. At least, this is what eventually worked for me. Getting off YouTube was the best decision I ever took. Now, I seldom watch through the new videos coming out, even when they're from seasoned magicians.
    Antonio Diavolo and angelofioren like this.
  5. Mitra, you are right, that if you don't know where to look, YouTube can ba a huge derailment in learning the right way.
  6. Yeah it's true that there is a lot of garbage on youtube. But at the same time it's not very difficult to find the reputable channels eitger if you put a little effort in.
    angelofioren likes this.
  7. I'd avoid YouTube. Most of the teaching is bad and most of the effects are not original. If someone has something good, they are not going to put it on YouTube. I prefer to perform effects that my spectators can't find on the internet before the end of the show.
    Antonio Diavolo likes this.
  8. Yeah I probably wouldn't do a routine dorectly off of youtube But its great for learning slights and whatnot. Esapecially since a lot of card moves are hard to learn from reading books. Even you do get a bad video it's not any worse than a bad interpretation from a book.
  9. I agree. I would reccomend Chris Ramsay’s channel. He stopped doing tutorials a while ago but his older videos have some really good principles for beginners to start with, and you can learn a lot about magic from him without ever learning a single trick. Also check out Alex Pandrea’s channel, he started a series of videos a while ago that is completely dedicated to what he calls “better sleight of hand” in those videos he teaches the basic sleights for beginners to learn as well as for experienced magicians to go back and fix bad habits they started with. Once you get a good handle on double lifts and other basics as well as being comfortable handling a deck of cards, I reccomend Disturb Reality and The Russian Genius, both teach some pretty advanced stuff from time to time but also teach tricks and applications for those basic sleights, and learning from them will further help you to get goodness with just handling a deck.
  10. I would add Xavior Spade’s YouTube channel to the list of good ones as well. I found my way to him through Chris Ramsay.
  11. As far as YouTube goes, I say learn as much as possible, whether it’s a good trick or a bad one, whether it’s original or not. As a beginner your mind isn’t yet trained to think like a magician. You still see tricks and use laymen logic to try to understand them, which just wont work. It takes a long time to train your mind to start thinking like a magician. Watch as many YouTube videos as you can. Learn to do as many tricks as you can. Try to practice all the tricks you see. I’m not saying try to perform every trick you learn on YouTube in front of people, obviously some are in fact bad methods. But the more of them you learn the more principles you will know. Learning these principles will train your mind to think less like a laymen and more like a magician. As you learn to understand these principles you will learn to pick out bad methods from good ones. You shouldn’t start off trying to be so particular about what you know, you are a beginner and have no idea what kinds of tricks will fit your style. And don’t always try to copy the patter used by the magicians on youtube, you will obviously not have an identical personality to them so their patter will be unnatural and forced to you.
    A good place to start is to learn to do a double lift. There are several methods to do it so try them all and see which one feels and looks best for you. This is one of the most basic principles of card magic and has countless applications, so it should be the first real sleight you learn.
    Another good place to start is to learn the key card principle, it requires no sleight of hand and also has countless applications, with it you can be using it to perform in front of people within 10 minutes of learning the principle
  12. Yes I agree Xavior Spade is also a great teacher
    angelofioren likes this.
  13. I would also like to Add a few books to the list of material. Expert Card Technique is a fantastic source, teaches many of the basic sleights and multiple methods for most. Also I can’t beleive that the Bible of card magic didn’t make the original list, The Expert at the Card Table has been considered sacred by magicians for over a hundred years! Both of those can be bought for around $10-$20
  14. Ehh... no.

    Have you read both of those books cover to cover? Do you have more than those two books to be able to give a good comparison?

  15. Yeah Card College is a lot better for modern readers who are starting with very little/no knowledge. If that's out of your budget Royal Road to Card Magic is way cheaper and easier to find but it is a little harder to read. THEN you move on to Expert Card Technique and maybe Card Table as well, if you want to do gambling demo stuff.
  16. i would just add a few pointers to the list of many good ones that have been recommended on this thread.

    Avoid jumping around from move to move, trick to trick, mastering none, but becoming mediocre at all. Master one trick or routine at a time. Practice it over and over, with your full presentation, saying your patter or script aloud.

    Video yourself doing the trick with your phone or camera, watch the video and keep repeating the process over and over again, picking out the weak spots, the flashes, the boring parts, etc, and keep refining it.

    Develop some intriguing or entertain patter or story. Avoid boring lines that just describe your actions, such as, "Now I just cast a shadow over the deck like this" or, "Now, I am going to do such and such..."

    Once you have the trick and presentation down, perform it for as many people as you can, taking to heart their comments, and even asking their opinions and for feedback.

    Use magical gestures (e.g. waving, snapping the fingers) and sometimes even magic words to "make the magic happen." Remember you are a magician.

    Experience is the best teacher.

    Good luck!

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