‘How Much Do You Practise?’ A Close Up Magician Reveals The Answer
When I’m not at a gig, I don’t.
You know, it’s funny, really – before I became a professional magician, I always told myself that there’s no way I’d be able to do it.
I told myself that I wasn’t good enough at magic. That the professionals had all been performing since they were 17 days old. That I wasn’t funny enough. I wasn’t a people’s person. There are enough magicians already. I don’t know how to book gigs. I don’t have what it takes. And so the list went on.
But now that I perform magic for a living, I don’t practise. As it turns out, I’ve already had all the practice I need to perform what I do.
Because the real practice is actually performing. Not in front of a mirror, but for real people in the real world.
Once you have mastered the mechanics of a trick, this is only the beginning of being able to perform it well.
If you ever get the chance to witness a magician performing a trick they’ve just learned versus a magician performing a trick they’ve been performing in front of people for years, the difference will be night and day.
To be a fantastic magician, most people think you need loads and loads of ‘awesome’ tricks. But in the hands of an veteran performer, any trick is entertaining.
So How Do I Learn New Tricks?
I’ll tell you a secret: I’ve built my entire magic career using five tricks.
I know hundreds. But I only ever perform five.
Can I perform hundreds of tricks well? Well enough, sure. But what about the five I do perform?
I’ve mastered them.
I could perform them back to front, blindfolded, silently – you name it.
I know the scripts, the jokes, and the moments of magic so well that I can relax and really engage with the people whose company I’m sharing. I can truly listen to them, respond to their questions, and even go off-script knowing that I can comfortably return at any point.
And it’s this point precisely that makes a good magician – and this rings true for individuals in any area of work – you can only master your field by doing one thing in particular thousands of times.
Doesn’t That Get Boring?
Do I ever perform anything else when I’m not doing my main five at an event?
Not really (and as most parties have anywhere between 50 and 100 people to perform for, I’ve never needed to carry more than five tricks on me).
And that’s not to say I’m particularly thrilled with that fact.
I was warned a long time ago that if you transform a hobby into a job, you risk losing that hobby.
I adore performing magic. I really do. But I’ve also lost the drive to learn new tricks. And I’m not sure if I even miss it all that much.
I wouldn’t say I’ve replaced the hobby with the career, but I’ve certainly transformed it into something else entirely.
Maybe one day the spark for learning & practising new magic will return.
But for now, I’ll stick with what I know.