• Is learning magic difficult?

  • April 29, 2019

  • The short answer is no. A longer answer is that it can be, but learning any skill has certain hurdles you have to get over, magic just has those hurdles in some different places to other art forms.

    Learning magic always seemed like an impossible task growing up. Anyone who knew any would never reveal how it was done, always reminding me of “The Magician’s Code”. Today, however, learning the secrets behind a magical effect couldn’t be easier, though learning how to perform is as tricky as it ever was.

    Growing up, though, I resigned myself to just enjoying any magic I got to see. I would watch anything I could on the TV that had anything to do with magic as I loved the art form, almost as much as I loved trying to figure out how it was done!

    The first bit of magic I did learn was from a friend; we’ll call him Harry, who to this day loves to remind me of this fact. It was a simple enough effect, and I don’t mind admitting that I still include it in my professional repertoire when appropriate, admittedly with a few tweaks and improvements, but the principles remain the same. My friend didn’t know the technical terms for any of the sleights he was using, but he taught it to me all the same. I don’t think I ever performed it until many years later when I started learning correctly though.

    Now I know why. A great magic trick is like a riddle. When you don’t see the solution, it sits in your mind gnawing away at you, bugging you to figure it out. As soon as you know the answer, you forget the riddle, momentarily annoyed at the simplicity, and then continue about your day. A day or so later, I try to recall the riddle, but often I would be unable to do so unless someone could give me the set up so I could ruin it with the solution. As soon as you know the secret behind a magic trick, you destroy the magic. It’s the very reason that I am just as guilty nowadays of hiding behind the magician’s code when asked the secret.

    Since learning the secret kills the infatuation you briefly held towards the experience that left you so baffled, how do you remain inspired to learn? For me, it was one simple quote,

    “A magician gives up the right to be amazed by magic, in order to amaze others.”

    Once I accepted this, my obsession would no longer die shortly after learning how it was done. Instead, it inspired me to go further down the rabbit hole so I could learn how to amaze people. Practising magic was no longer a chore. It was a joy, knowing how impressed people would be with the finished product.

    I realise this doesn’t answer the question of how I learnt magic per se, but it does frame the mindset you need to acquire before embarking down the very, very, very long road to learning how to perform magic.

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