There is no single “right” way or set of criteria for how to become a magician. There are all sorts of different skills to work on and tricks to master, and ultimately one aspiring magician may excel in an entirely different area than another. That said, there are some basic practices it would be wise for anyone hoping to become a convincing magician to prioritize.
I’m not talking about beginner magic tricks or the fundamentals of sleight of hand, either. Rather, I want to recommend some more general, slightly abstract ideas that will likely serve you well if you progress to more detailed magic lessons….
Know Your Props
Most magicians use props of one kind or another, whether that means secret accessories the audience isn’t meant to know about, special outfits, or more overt objects to involve in tricks (such as a wand or top hat). But you should also give some thought to any props you might want to include to help establish a persona and an act beyond your magic. The question ‘What’s a Party Without Balloons?’ has been asked here before, and it’s just the sort of question to start with when considering props. Figure out what speaks to you and what helps you develop your magician “character,” if you will, and it may help to steer the whole act you develop.
Learn Your Card Values
A lot of magicians start with card tricks. And while not all card tricks depend too much on card or hand values (perhaps even most don’t), it’s still a good idea to know the deck inside and out. And learning the different combinations of cards and their different values in popular games like poker is easier than you might expect. A downloadable “cheat sheet” on Poker.org basically puts all the information on a single page, so much so that you can study and begin your card trick education with a thorough understanding of value. For certain tricks, as well as for your interactions with audiences, it may come in handy to know how cards and combinations rank. The better you know the cards, the more convincing you’ll be.
Improve Your Hand Dexterity
Whether for sleight of hand, card tricks, handling unusual objects, or just developing those smooth movements and flourishes the best magicians have, it’s important to develop dexterity with your hands and fingers. It can take some time, but the fun part is that you can do it any number of ways! You might run programs that work on your typing speed or take up the practice of tying different knots. You might learn an instrument like the guitar or piano that demands a lot of your fingers. You may even consider working on your juggling, which can improve your hands and, according to Wired can even turn you into a better learner. Whatever you decide though, making your hands and fingers as capable as possible will only help your journey to become a good magician.
Train Like an Actor
A lot of people can benefit from an acting class or two besides actual actors. Indeed, an article at Inc.com even claims that the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs used acting techniques in order to speak and present with more authority. Given that half of being a magician is knowing how to perform anyway, this is certainly an idea to take to heart. Even a few acting classes and books will teach you a lot about how to relax in front of an audience, as well as how best to engage that audience. And in the end, if Magician A and Magician B are equal in talent, but Magician A studied acting and Magician B did not, Magician A is going to put on a better show every time.
Master Some Tiny Tricks
Lastly, make an effort to master — really master — some tiny tricks. When you’re just starting out, focusing on massive illusions or mind-blowing audience tricks is only likely to leave you frustrated. Instead, teach yourself how to pull off some small tricks, both to form the foundation for your earliest acts and, more importantly, to show yourself that you can do it. Every magician builds up from scratch, and starting that process at the beginning, rather than jumping to the middle, is the best tip I can give you.
If you are a budding magician or know someone who wants to be a magician and need guidance or lessons, contact me firstname.lastname@example.org