Ask a Magician, a series of blog posts answering your questions! – Issue V
David recently emailed me to ask about my process of learning new magic. I thought it was an interesting question so here it is in this issue:
How often do you learn a new trick, and how many times do you practice it before it’s ready to incorporate into your act?
This a great question! I’m always playing around with different ideas and in fact I meet with a trusted friend once a week for a deep dive on how we can both push our magic forward. Magic really is a welcoming community. Of course all of the best ideas find their way into one of my secret (and treasured) notebooks! Every great magician has several.
And we don’t just discuss tricks, we also talk about how we can improve the service for our clients. As professional magicians, that’s a big part of what we do. It’s worth noting that as I’ve been doing this since 2001, you can be sure that if you book me, you’re getting someone who has already made and solved many of the mistakes an amateur hasn’t even thought of yet.
Back to the tricks though! Learning something new, whether that’s a new physical skill or a developing a different presentational slant that fits my personality is always beneficial because it keeps my skills sharp, and widens my experience and knowledge of magic. Not all of that work makes it directly into my working repertoire, but I still believe it’s useful.
If I do want to try something live, I need to first learn it well enough to not give the secret away (spoiler alert, I’m not actually a witch!) When I do start performing it, it won’t be at paid shows straight away, but for friends, family, other magicians and on the occasions I have a charity show where I’m helping out for free or for a reduced price, then I will try some new material there too.
If I don’t feel it exactly fits me, I might share it with other magicians. Just recently in fact, I wrote a set of lecture notes (and a lecture) that provide a mix of some of my working material and some of these quirkier ideas. Professional magicians can purchase it from my magicians only page.
If a routine does eventually progress to a paid show, it’s about developing it slowly. I’ll put that routine alongside other more established material. That’s a nice way to ease that material and learn some of the timing and the presentation.
My working material is quite well rounded now, so few routines get to this stage, but as with many things, looking for ideas is a bit like panning for gold. A lot gets discarded, some of it gets broken apart and used as the springboard for other projects, and occasionally (and oh, it’s such a great feeeling when this happens) some of it just appears fully formed!
Got a question to contribute? I would love to hear it! Leave a comment, or click here to email me.