How To Be A Magician For Kids
How To Become A Magician For Kids
Kids love magic! Unlike adults, kids don't have a big ego when it comes to watching a magician. Kids expect adults to be able to do things that they can't, and they don't feel insulted by it.
In contrast, all too many grown-ups think that if a magician fools them, it is an insult to their intelligence. They see magic as a puzzle and feel offended if they arent able to figure it out. Not so with kids!
It is true that many children will try to figure out how a trick works or they will shout out that they know how, even when they don't. Nevertheless, unlike many adults, kids are not offended when a magician fools them.
They see magic as an entry into the land of make-believe. They see the magician's props as sort of grown-up toys, and many of them fancy that if they only had the props, they would be able to do the tricks themselves!
If you work for a young audience as a magician, then it can bring you great rewards, but there are a few things you should know about beforehand.
Entering for the Show
One thing to remember when performing for children is that children rarely if ever go to the theater and they don't know how they are supposed to behave when they are watching a magic show. As a result, if you're doing a show, expected to begin the moment you walk in the door.
One of the best opening lines I've heard of is to walk in and say, "Hey! Somebody send for a magician?" Expect to be mobbed! The kids will rush out of their seats, if they were even seated at all, and surround you.
Some magicians try to create an attractive setting with their props artistically arranged on tables, but with children, this is asking for a table to get upset and props knocked on the floor. The days in which a magician could be assured of having a nice curtain to set things up behind are unfortunately over!
This is not to say that you can't ask the parents for a little private time to set up, but the best setup I know is to work right out of your magic bag or suitcase.
Warming Up the Audience
A "warm-up" that gets the children clapping and responding can be a good way to start a magic show. If the warm-up teaches the children that they are supposed to applaud at the end of the trick, so much the better, but don't be upset if they fail to absorb this lesson!
Children haven't learned to applaud yet, so rather than expecting them to applaud for you, the magician, encourage them to applaud for your volunteer helpers, for your rabbit, for your puppet or even for themselves for being a good audience.
Start off with a quick, entertaining trick that will establish your credentials as a magician. A flashy production number can be good, and it can have the added advantage of putting some of your props and silk scarves out where you can use them for other tricks.
Good Book on Performing for Kids
Norm's Comedy Magic is unique in approach and fun for kids of all ages. This book has many fun comedy tricks that will amaze your audience. Some routines use regular magic props in unusual ways and other effects are completely new in presentation and approach. Be unique. Make your magic show different, with the cool magic in this book.
Understanding Child Psychology
Kids are different from adults in other ways as well. If you flub a trick, you can expect them to tell you. One thing you must never do when performing for children is to get flustered or upset if one of your tricks doesn't work out quite right. Children can be your best audience if you are good, but they can turn on you in a heartbeat if you mess something up and are obviously upset about it.
Don't try misdirection on children either. If you wave a silk scarf in the air, adults will tend to look at the scarf. Wave a silk scarf in the air, and children will continue to look at your other hand, the one that is trying to secretly steal a load from your pocket!
Kids like to be a part of the act, so be sure to use plenty of volunteer assistants. These are the ones who can reach into your magic bag to see if the scarf has disappeared, open your magic box, or even have the sponge balls fly from one hand to the other.
Making Children Laugh
Another thing that doesn't tend to work well with children is verbal humor. Children haven't been around long enough to know what all of those wisecracks, puns and patter mean.
Children love visual humor, however. If the children are sure that the "magic card" has a secret color on the back and ask you to turn it around, and you repeatedly misunderstand them, turning it in a circular motion rather than front to back or even waving it over your head, you will get howls from the audience!
Don't drag it on too long, however. Eventually turn the card around to show that it says "fooled again" on the back rather than the colored spot they were expecting!
Another thing children love is when they see something that the magician doesn't (or pretends not to). So when the magician has a feather flower on his back and he repeatedly turns around and doesn't see it, that's funny!
Children also love the "magician in trouble syndrome." That's when one of the magician's tricks seems to go wrong (all in fun, of course) and then, at the end, the problem is resolved and the magician comes out the winner again!
The important thing here is that the children must, deep down, know that things are going to work out all right. That's part of the humor.
Another important thing when performing for youngsters is not to "talk down" to them. Don't be patronizing. If you try to use baby talk or speak in a way that you think children speak, they will see right through it and let you know about it!
Clown Magic by David Ginn
Routining Your Act
Some magicians use both music and a spoken storyline in their performance. For example, they may open with music and colorful visual effects for a few minutes in order to establish their role as a magician and to demonstrate their ability. This can also give the children time to settle down.
Then the magician may bring up an audience volunteer to get the children involved in the show, perhaps tearing up two pieces of tissue paper and placing them on the child's hand before they are shown to be whole again (thereby allowing the child to perform the magic).
Other Aspects of Performing for Children
One thing that is important when performing for children is to be able to project your voice. Don't expect children to be quiet and sit still while you are doing your act! (On the other hand, sometimes the adults in the back of the room are the ones making the most noise!) Therefore, it is important to be able to project your voice when performing for children. Don't rely on an amplification system to do all the work for you.
Eye contact is another key when performing for children. Avoid ignoring any section of your audience. Give equal attention to the left, right, front and back. After all, they all came to see your show.
Final Things You Should Know
Another thing to remember is that the magician must always be a good role model for the children. I'm not talking about things like not drinking or smoking (although that's important too). I'm talking about the tricks you do.
For example, if you stick a spike through your neck, watch out! Some of the children may try to emulate you later. If you use flash paper, more than one of the children may attempt to copy it, using anything from a paper napkin to a piece of toilet tissue.
Avoid tricks with cigarettes and matches entirely. There are plenty of other props you can use without having to worry about the kids injuring themselves by using combustibles or sharp objects.
Seriously Silly by David Kaye
The DVD companion to David Kaye's volume Seriously Silly. Contains instruction from Silly Billy on entertaining children with magic and comedy. Contains a full performance before an audience of children by Silly Billy, plus trip explanation and instructions. As well as many extras.