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What Makes a Great Magician

Updated on August 16, 2012

The best magicians have a certain quality to their craft that can be hard to pin down. These great magicians know that magic is not a substitute for personality and they implement entertainment into their sleight of hand. They know what it takes to be a professional magician. They acknowledge that they are first and foremost entertainers. Their tricks are much more than the mechanics of their sleights. Consequently, knowing how to be a professional magician takes rigorous practice.

An amateur magician may present a trick and not have patter, or dialogue. If they ever get a chance to become a professional magic, amateurs learn first that they must be entertaining. This means great magicians consider what the spectator sees while performing a trick. For example, a card will move from the middle of the deck to the top and a professional magician understands that to the spectator the card has magically leapt to the first position of the deck. The effect of the trick is better by snapping the fingers over the deck before revealing where card is now positioned. Now the time between the sleight and the snapping of the fingers is long enough to make the spectator forget any motion that may have been considered suspicious if it were otherwise done immediately before the card was revealed to be on top.

A great professional magician avoids opening a trick to a potential audience by stating something as trifling as “watch, watch this!” Instead, he would state or inquire about something that sparks curiosity. To illustrate, the magician could ask, “you know how people train dogs to do tricks with just a snap of their fingers? Well, I can do something similar with this deck of cards.” This patter will draw in more interest to the performance.

To perform magic, a magician must also understand that a trick is much more than just a sum of its parts. Making a performance more than mere technique is essential to wowing the crowd. Some people record their tricks and watch them back, but in order to really make the performance great, the trick should be performed in the mirror. This insures that the performance flows naturally. Also, it is always much better to do a few tricks that are mastered than it is to perform several that are a little sloppy.

To be a successful magician, a person must perfect many things:

  • Entertain with a performance
  • Make sleights secondary to make sure the crowd feels as though they are seeing magic
  • Of course practice a lot and preferably in a mirror

Top magicians consider more than the technique when putting together a routine. They do not want to the crowd to be semi-impressed by being able to deduce simple calculated hand movements. Being entertaining is their top priority and successful magician knows how to use patter to draw in curiosity. Finally, they practice and then practice some more. All of these tips will make any performance into a powerful spectacle and leaving the audience in a state of child-like wonder is key to being a great magician.

Check out this book for great card routines.


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