Tools for Improving your Magic, Part 2

Conjurer's Coffee Break - Episode 009


- Alright, welcome to part two.
- And in this part, we're going to talk about how to improve your magic.

- But as I said in the first part, this is a slightly different look at things.
- The Performance Rubric is an analysis tool, and it's goal is for you to improve what you already do.
- On the other hand, my study guide is a framework for developing your magic, and finding new areas to explore.

- You know, I sometimes come against a conflict here with some magicians who tell me that they have their act and they never change it.
- I get it.
- Like, I find it difficult to add new material into my working repertoire.
- But I am always trying to improve it, and one way to do that is to learn more about other genres of magic.

- And there's another big bonus, which some people also disagree with me on, and that's fine. Like, you do you.
- But I think as professionals we should be competent at a wide range of magic.
- The example I always give is, you turn up an event and there's another magician there. They're doing close up magic too, so wouldn't it be great if you could say, you know what I'll be the mentalist tonight.
- Or maybe the clients asks you stand up at the end and do something for the whole group. Are you equally confident with large groups? Do you have any material for that situation that you can carry in your case?
- Or maybe a guest says, do you know any magic with coins? It's happened to me, and you know what, I was glad I had some killer coin magic.
- My job is to be the professional, and I believe having the adaptability to fit in a range of situations is part of that.
- So, that's the goal of this tool.

- There are three steps.
- Each step has three, I'm gonna say, guidelines that can help you.
- All you need are the three main steps, and if you have a different approach to figuring out the rest, then go for it.

- So, how do you improve your magic?
- The three steps are:
- 1. Improve the routines that are already familiar to you.
- 2. Work with props that are familiar to you.
- 3. Explore new props.

- So, if you take nothing else anyway from this session, then write that into your notebook - familiar routines, familiar props, new props.

- And whilst going through this process you can be asking yourself a few questions, what are the key moments of the routine? so, which moments do you need to emphasise (when is the magic happening?)
- or which moments do you need to de-emphasise (either because it's procedure that you need to shorten, or it's a secret method that you need to misdirect from) - a huge topic for another episode.
- are you using the best technique? you should, even if it means working on something more difficult.
- what other presentations could you use? and yes, it's ok to have multiple presentations for the same routine or the same presentation for multiple routines.

- OK, with those overall guidelines out of the way. Oh and by the way, there's a downloadable PDF for all of this on my website, let's talk more about these guidelines for each step.

- So step 1. Improve your familiar routines.
- You could do that by writing out a script, if you don't have one already, or shooting a series of photos if it's a silent or to music act.
- You could film the routine at a live show, or at somewhere low pressure like an open mic night, and then use last week's performance rubric to analyse the routine.
- And, of course, it's better if you do this with another magician or even a non-magician.
- Magic can be very solitary, but it doesn't have to be, and I don't know why we as magicians have such a huge ego barrier to asking for help. Well, I have some ideas but I think we should try to change the narrative on that one.

- Step 2. Work with familiar props.
- You could do that, by finding a study course for the prop you are most familiar with and work through it. I mentioned this in my episode in praise of books. When I picked up Card College after 15 years of magic, I learnt so much, I didn't know I was missing.
- One of the great things, is trying something new on a regular basis.
- And, of course, you could seek expert feedback. Several years ago, I attended a small group workshop with Doc Eason, at Smoke & Mirrors, in Bristol. I thought it was incredibly useful, and I learnt more from that sessions than ten magic lectures where you just sit and watch someone breeze through a secret without any detail about how to actually perform.

- Step 3. Explore new props.
- Well, for this step, you could (and again, these sub steps are just guidelines) but you could identify gaps in your magical knowledge or an area you are interested to explore. In my case, I know very little about propless mentalism, and I wish I knew more about it.
- For you maybe it's coin magic, or gambling routines, or maybe you could improve your magic for children. You're going to meet them wherever you perform, so it's worth having something that actually engages them, rather than seeing them as an inconvenient nuisance until you can get back to performing for the adults.
- To learn more about propless mentalism, maybe I should pick up a magic download.
- Yes, I know that in a recent episode I said that downloads weren't the best thing for magic, but here's a use for them. It's a chance to dip the toe in and learn just a little bit more about a new topic, or area.
- And from there, I can look for similarities and fundamental principles between different genres of magic.

- Maybe that helps me with a script I'm working on, or I learn something that can add an extra layer of deception.
- That's what expanding your knowledge is for me. It's about exploring every possibility. In doing so, everything will feed back into your routines and you'll become a more rounded, and in my opinion better performer.
- Which is the goal of these podcasts right, to help you become better performers.

- And I hope you are finding these podcasts helpful. Remember you can contribute by finding the specific page for this podcast at, if you are enjoying the episodes share them with your magic peers, and don't forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from.

- Until next time, thanks as ever for listening.


Additional Show Notes

- There are people who work solely on their act and never veer away from that. As I said, that's fine if that's what you want to do, but I think it's a little disappointing. I update my magic every year, with some refinements and extra polish, and with a few new routines. That actually becomes a selling point for repeat clients where I can say they will see "The new season of magic!"

- As mentioned, it also ties into your bank of knowledge or the web of learning. I'm not a huge fan of the writing style of this author, but I wanted to highlight this particular article which I think makes a good point.

The Value of Learning "Useless" Things

- And also check out this blog post of mine, which touches on a similar topic - How to learn magic (or anything else).

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