When I’m performing magic at events, people often ask questions like “What’s the best way for my 10 year old to learn magic?”.
Perhaps you have a child or family member who is interested in magic. Maybe you want to learn some magic yourself. So, what is the best way to learn magic?
The problem is, I’ve never had a very coherent answer.
I’m in my mid-40s and I started doing magic when I was about 9 – before the Internet existed! Clearly, a lot’s changed for a budding magician since then, so I’ve always felt a little out of the loop when I’m asked the best way for a newbie to learn magic.
I’ve reached out to several magician friends, in an attempt to answer the question “How can I learn magic?” Whether it’s for you or a younger family member, here are a few great ways to become a budding wizard.
I’ll warn you in advance – learning magic can be very addictive and time-consuming. As Teller (the quiet one from Penn and Teller) once said “Sometimes, magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.” There’s a lot of truth in that!
That said, magic can be a brilliant hobby. Aside from learning some tricks to entertain your friends and family, you can gain a bunch of useful skills along the way. Not just manual dexterity for sleight-of-hand, but things like psychology and social skills. It can also help to boost your confidence.
How to learn magic: Get a magic book
The number one response I got from other magicians was not how to learn magic, but how not to learn magic. The general consensus was not to learn via YouTube, or via an app, or somewhere in the metaverse.
Nearly every great magician I spoke to suggested starting with a book. That’s also how I started.
My own interest in magic was piqued by TV shows and a Paul Daniels magic set, but my journey into becoming a proper wizard started when I found some magic books at my local library.
While the language felt a bit dated and was sometimes a little difficult to read, the books included some brilliant magic tricks which are as amazing and relevant today as when they were published.
The great thing about learning from books (as opposed to video) is that it forces you to think and interpret the ideas for yourself, rather than just copying. I believe this will make you a better magician in the long run.
If I had to recommend one book for a newbie magician it would be “The Magic Book” by Harry Lorayne.
Harry sadly passed away earlier this year, aged 96. He was a respected magician, memory expert, and a prolific author of books for professional magicians. The Magic Book was written specifically with the serious beginner in mind.
It was also the first “proper” magic book I read, so maybe I’m a little biased!
A few other recommendations for magic books:
- Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic: First published in 1975, this covers a huge range of magic from close-up magic with everyday items, card tricks, mentalism and grand stage illusions.
- The Royal Road to Card Magic – often suggested as the go-to book for card tricks, this is a great book for a budding card magician.
- Magic: The Complete Course by Joshua Jay – Josh is a very-well know magician in the magic world, and runs a popular online shop for professional magicians. This book was released with the beginner in mind.
Finally, if you’re looking for magic to impress your followers on TikTok or Instagram, a friend suggested “Make Your Own Magic” to me. I haven’t personally read it, but it looks like a good book.
How to learn magic: Join a magic club
I was about 13 when I discovered Davenports Magic Shop in Central London. The shop sadly closed down a few years ago, but it used to be a meeting point for any magicians who were passing through London.
Every Saturday at Davenports, “The Demon Club” welcomed young magicians who learnt magic together and performed in a show for friends and family every Christmas.
Meeting other magicians and learning from more experienced performers is a brilliant way to learn. The Magic Circle now has a “Young Magicians Club” for anybody aged 10-18 who has an interest in Magic.
Members get a welcome pack, a regular magazine and in-person magic workshops with professional magicians at the The Magic Circle HQ in London. If you’re not able to attend in person, there’s an online archive off all of the events that you can stream from home.
If you’re based in the UK and want to find a local magic club, here is a list of all the magic societies in the country!
how to learn magic: General Tips
So you’ve decided that you want to learn magic. How do you get good at it? Here are a few general tips I’ve picked up on my own journey:
Learn to perform one or two tricks well
It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to learn everything you can, but I’d recommend picking 1 or 2 things at first and learning to do them well. Once you’ve got your first couple of magic tricks down, you can start to add more to your repertoire
Practice, practice, practice.
You’ll never get good unless you practice. As well as learning the process and techniques for the magic tricks, think about what you will say, and practice saying it out loud. Film yourself with your phone and watch it back to see how it will look to an audience.
Perform in front of people
Magic is meant to be shared and enjoyed by other people. Find some family members or friends to show the magic that you’ve learnt and practiced. Try to learn something from each performance to help you improve.
I hope this has helped to answer the question “How can I learn magic?” at least a little for you. Magic’s a great hobby to start at any age, and can bring a huge amount of enjoyment for you and the people you perform for.
Keep it up and who knows – maybe I’ll see you performing as a magician at a corporate event sometime in the future!
Top Photo Credit: Nick Beard