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Twinsburg, Ohio
533 Posts

Profile of WilliamWHolcomb
Having studied magic for only the past two years or so, I often still find myself confused - overwhelmed may be a better word - at the vast amount of techniques, sleights, and tricks that are availible for magicians to learn. I can't even imagine now how frustrated I could have become during my "early days" if not for my excitment and wonder for my new hobby.

My question is simple: What are the true essentials that must be mastered by beginners to establish a very solid foundation. I know someone can pick up a copy of a coin or card book and learn a few things - but does a beginner really know what is, well, essential?
William Holcomb
Peter Marucci
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Inner circle
5389 Posts

Profile of Peter Marucci
The question may be simple but the answer sure isn't!
However, just off the top of my head:

Vanishing a coin or other small object. (Retention vanish, French drop, etc.)

Switching a coin or other small object. (Bobo switch, etc.)

Producing a coin or other small object. (Many methods)

Double lift. (Probably the most useful of all card sleights.)

Palming a card. (But you may spend a long time on this, only to find there are many other ways of doing the effect.)

Forcing a card. (Many ways of doing this -- slip force, cross-cut, Hindu shuffle, etc.)

Controlling a card. (In-jog, pass, etc.)

Two in the hand, one in the pocket. (Can be done anywhere, with just about anything.)

Cups and balls (Most consider this essential; I spent months learning a routine only to discard it -- I NEVER do the cups and balls.)

Cut and restored rope. (Classic method, Sandsational method, etc.)

The list goes on and on, and I know that the minute I send this message I'm going to think of half a dozen other things that should have been included.

Best thing? Get one or two books from experts that cover the real essentials:
Harry Lorayne's The Magic Book,
Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic.
Those two alone will certainly give you the essentials and in the right order for learning them, as one thing builds on another.

Tom Cutts
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Northern CA
5859 Posts

Profile of Tom Cutts
There is an essential that is often overlooked and left for last in the learning path of magicians. It is the basic theory of magic or deception.

The methods will change, the props will change, all based on person taste. The basics of deception are realatively constant. They are the foundation of magic.

I'm not sure indepth study of theory would be helpful to those new to magic, but some attention to it would put you years ahead in a matter of just months. In your quest and hunger to learn and or consume sleights, some thought into how they actually deceive would do wonders for your understanding of the art. Basic things like "be natural," and the very rudiments of misdirection are what enable veterans to be very magical with very rudimentary sleights.

You will be the only one who knows how deeply you can, and will, understand these basics, but they are the essence of deception.

Keep asking questions. It is a good path to take.

John Clarkson
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Special user
Santa Barbara, CA
749 Posts

Profile of John Clarkson
On 2002-11-30 09:20, Tom Cutts wrote:
There is an essential that is often overlooked and left for last in the learning path of magicians. It is the basic theory of magic or deception...


Bravo! Part of the joy of magic is THINKING. I love sitting with other magicians, dissecting effects.

A good source: Darwin Ortiz' "Strong Magic."

John D. Clarkson, S.O.B. (Sacred Omphaloskeptic Brotherhood)

"There is nothing more important to a magician than keeping secrets. Probably because so many of them are Gay."
—Peggy, from King of the Hill (Sleight of Hank)
David Fletcher
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Loyal user
238 Posts

Profile of David Fletcher
Check out the Eddie Fechter book.
He used a few basic moves. He did them his way and did them well.
Try not to get overwhelmed. As Annemann professed - It's the effect that counts, not the method. Beginners often get caught up in finding the perfect "this move" or the perfect "that move".
Remember the KISS principle and your magic will be better for it. (Keep It Simple)
You have to give it away to keep it.
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Special user
Twinsburg, Ohio
533 Posts

Profile of WilliamWHolcomb
Thanks all for your input. I have a lot to learn!
William Holcomb
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New user
Bay area, Northern California
68 Posts

Profile of magicpirate82
Wow! Great advice given here. I printed Peter's for my own reference. Let me add emphasis to Peter's recommendation on the Mark Wilson book. I pulled it out just last night after many years of it sitting on the shelf. I'm still learning new things from that gem! Get that book and you're well on your way. Of course with all the other material available now, it's easy to get distracted but I believe you will always come back to the Wilson book from time to time.

Vinnie Anderson
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New user
84 Posts

Profile of Vinnie Anderson
I agree with Peter. When I was first starting out in magic, I was amazed at all the information available to me. I started with Mark Wilson's course and it was a valuable and indispensible book to work with. I learned a great deal of the basics and felt I had a strong foundation when I was done.
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Regular user
Costa Rica
102 Posts

Profile of Rafa
Daryl's set is good because you'll have a "help" glossary with the explanations.
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New user
Holland MI
46 Posts

Profile of Skeptic
Speaking of theory, I really got alot out of Tommy Wonder's "Books of Wonder". I do not do a single thing from them but his essays and insights into what makes things magical in the audiences eyes are invaluable. Check them out.
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