I feel that there is a major issue in the world of magic. It surprised me when I discovered it and still doesn’t fail to surprise me. If you are starting out in the world of magic or if you have been doing it for a while, it will be valuable to read this post and comment. Discussion is vital in our growth as magicians and I would love your opinion.
The issue is rarely found in any other pastime, sport or culture. I noticed it when I started working in a magic shop in Australia in about 1993 and it’s still around. I noticed that highlighted in the sales copy of many tricks were statements such as
“No sleights needed”
“Anyone can do it!”
What confused me was that these statements were seen as positive. I came into magic with very few magician friends and those who influenced me were highly skilled as a result of practice. I presumed this was, like juggling (my then current ‘thing’), a requisite for being good at something.
Surely a good magician, like a good juggler, football player or artist was someone who could do things-because of practice-that a majority of people couldn’t do-because of lack of practice. Why would someone want to watch someone perform something that ‘anyone could do’.
Now of course I am not saying that all easy tricks should be avoided. I perform the egg bag and strait-jacket escape, both of which are physically easy to do (it took a long time to make them entertaining, but that’s for another post). However, if you avoid anything that needs practice and hard work, you will miss out on most of what magic has to offer.
I am living proof that you don’t need any natural talent to become a professional card magician. I struggled more than most and was know to be rather cack-handed with most things I began to learn. The same when I was a juggler, I was a terrible catch! But with resilience and an addiction to the joy of self-learning, I worked through the tough bit and came out the other end.
Just do something for me a second. Think of someone you know who excels at what they do. It can be a magician, musician or artist. Ok now if you are looking up at them as super-human, gifted or out of your reach, STOP! because they are no different from you. They have no innate gift, they just put the work in. It has been proven again and again that hours of practice results in success. Therefore if you put the time in, and you mostly enjoy it (there will be incredibly frustrating times), then you will attain the level of skill required to become a professional level card magician.
Every time you pick up a deck of cards, please have no doubt that, providing you are able-bodied, you can learn any sleight you want to. In this respect I believe that yes, anyone can do it. Understand that the initial failure is part of the process. Think of me not being able to shuffle a deck of cards without dropping for months. With time, dedication and repetition the sleights will become easier and the learning smoother. I think we should earn the right to call ourselves magicians and celebrate the fact that we have decided to learn something that many people will love and enjoy with the knowledge that without practice not ‘anyone can do it’.