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Library of Past Columns
Answers and Advice for All Ages and Skill Levels.

Q. What is the best way to get started in magic as a hobby? from Bobby Thickwillow, Wilkes-Barre, PA

A. Great question! And, not so oddly, it is of interest to a growing group of folks that are just trying to get started in magic. The problem if there is one is that the question is fairly broad and various 'experts' will have differing views on how to get started. That said let me give you some tips that 30 years in the business teaching, writing, publishing, etc. have taught me:

#1- Have fun. PLEASE .... have FUN! If you are having a good time learning the magic craft you will project that out to those for whom you end up performing.

#2- Use the library! You may be amazed at how many books on magic you find in both the children's and adult's sections. Library folks are wonderful people, but they do not necessarily know which books are supposed to be in which section and you can find some gems in the Children's section.

#3- Goes with #2 and is axiomatic: READ as much as you can find. Some of the best material I have come across over the years has been in the oddest books! Gain as broad a knowledge as you can.

#4- If you can find a copy of the Amateur Magician's Handbook by Henry Hay .... DO SO and read the thing. The two articles at the beginning of the book on theory and practice are superb.

#5- Learn and practice the BASICS. Magic is a craft that needs practice to perfect the movements and techniques that are then used to produce the MAGIC EFFECTS that startle and amaze folks. Learn to LOVE to practice. (Personally, I have always loved the PROCESS involved in learning and perfectly what I have performed and taught.)

#6- Buy solid BOOKS, VIDEOS and TRICKS that are classics. Look for items that have stood the test of time.

#7- Look in your area for a magic club. Both the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians have groups all over the U.S. and the world! They both have web sites with useful information on joining. If you don't have a local group contact the above organizations and get suggestions on starting one!

#8- This is perhaps the most important suggestion for a beginner: Although it is no particular fun to be caught, busted, found out, etc. ..... IT WILL HAPPEN! Try not to let it worry you. In every instance try and figure out WHY they busted you. Learn from these mistakes. Many of the best techniques I now use were discovered after blowing a trick and trying to figure out why. Don't let it get you down. Magic is a big part of my life, but getting busted will not cause more famine in the world. It will not cause a cascade of horror and bloodshed. It will not cause cancer, nor will doing a trick perfectly cure cancer. Magic is a wonderful hobby a superlative manner in which to make a living, but trust me there are more important things in life. Have a good time and enjoy. The more relaxed you are the LESS likely you are TO MAKE A MISTAKE!!! Fear can be a killer when you perform. Relax and do it. |TOP|

Q. Brad, do you have some recommendations on what to buy to learn the basics? I am particularly interested in sleight-of-hand, close-up magic. Martin Crenslaw, Cleveland, OH

A. Martin, you bet. There are any number of books that are terrific. At the top of my list for card work are the new Card College books volumes 1-4 by Giobbi. Truly killer material. Well organized and wonderfully presented. For coins Bobo's New Modern Coin Magic by J.B. Bobo is terrific (in the hardbound edition if you can find it. If not, the soft cover reprint Dover edition is still terrific. The reason the Dover edition is not the best is that it is missing all the updated material.

As a general all around book one of my all time favorites is the Mark Wilson Course in Magic co-written by the incomparable Walter Gibson. What a great book and available for about $30 most magic stores or here on the magicwebchannel..

On the Video front I would recommend my Basics of Expert Card Technique vols 1-2 and my Small Packet Basics. My 3 videos on coins will give you a solid foundation in the manipulation of small round metal disks. For those with a basic foundation already in cards the Card Encyclopedia tapes by Daryl are superlative. If you can find it in a used book store in the hardbound edition The Amateur Magician's Handbook by Henry Hay is one of my all time favorite books. The paperback edition is ok, but the type and photos are pretty small and much harder to work with. Anyway, the above should get you going! Oh, if you find some books in your local library always check the bibliographies. --

Brad Burt

Send us your question - try and stump me!

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