The more we know about magic, the harder it is for us to view it the same way we did when we first started to learn magic tricks as a beginner.
Over time, we build up our knowledge, and that changes us in the process. Our tastes change, and our opinions about what constitutes good magic shift to reflect this.
The building up of good taste within any subject should be positive. The wine expert builds his pallet and is better for it. However, magicians are different. Magicians are creating something to be performed to spectators who are by nature, complete beginners. Magicians have to become experts catering to beginners. This paradox can cause some serious problems with your development as a professional magician. It’s one of the reasons that many professional magicians end up performing magic only to other magicians. They become experts to such an extent that they become a ‘magicians magician’.
Being an expert in a subject doesn’t mean you will be a good teacher of it. Sometimes, an expert assumes parts of the subject are so basic that they are common knowledge. The professor rushes his lesson. The expert uses jargon, without realizing that the students don’t understand. No matter how hard he tried to simplify the lesson, he fails to make his class understand. He is so deep into his subject that he has forgotten what it is like to know nothing of the subject.
Magicians face the same problem. It’s most often seen by the language some magicians use when giving spectators instructions.
“Please cut the playing cards.”
“Please sign the face of the playing cards”
“For my next effect…”
The magician becomes so familiar with the jargon of magic that they assume it is common knowledge. They need to remember what it was like before they became an expert. They need to go back to the mind of a beginner.
Interesting Magic Tricks
Beginners and the general public often have very different ideas of an entertaining magic trick. Magicians can fall into the trap of thinking a classic magic trick is just too simple to be entertaining. They forgot how much those magic tricks fooled them when they started out. Sponge magic tricks, thumb tips, Svengali and stripper decks are some of the best close-up magic tricks ever invented. However, the expert loses touch with the experiences of the beginner, and those magic tricks get written off as ‘too basic’. Instead of being driven to learn more and more complex routines, the expert has to retain the mind of a beginner so that his or her judgment doesn’t become clouded by experience.
To become an expert magician, you need to develop the mind of a beginner and keep that view as the guiding force in your judgments.
Go through your magic scripts and look for jargon that could be simplified.
When you next perform try to be aware of moments, when you make assumptions about what your audience does, and doesn’t already know.
List the top 5 magic tricks that amazed you, before you started to learn magic. Do you perform variations of them?
Listen to spectators talk about the magic tricks they have seen on TV. What were the themes that are most popular? Think about how you could create your own magic that captures the essence of those themes.
Examine each magic trick you perform and honestly ask yourself if they are really magic tricks designed to fool other magicians. How could you simplify them for a beginner?