When Learning Magic, Does Practice Really Make Perfect?



Besides doing magic, I also know how to dance. Lindy Hop, Swing (East and West Coast), etc. I took lessons, workshops… everything to learn this stuff. And, practice is needed to get good enough to dance socially.

One thing that I learned early on is that you can practice all you want and still not get good! When you practice, the key is to practice the right moves. Common sense, right? The thing most people miss is that most will practice the wrong moves.

In the dancing example, for instance, I see many people trying to learn to do, let’s say, the West Coast Swing. This is very difficult; it took me about six months to get the basics down. I see people all the time doing steps that are not in this dance. And they do it all the time. Why? Because they practiced it wrong.

So What Does This Have To Do With Magic?

A lot, my friend. You see, if you practice, let’s say, the Hindu Shuffle, and you do it sloppy and practice it sloppy, the move becomes sloppy. And it’s hard to undo after that.

I was once at a one-day magic seminar and one of the acts in the evening show, a graduate of the Chavez School of Magic, was performing an act using billiard balls. (This is a classic piece in magic.) But, every time she put the ball into her left hand to make it vanish, I and everyone else in the room saw where it went. She was so sloppy in her moves that she ruined (and exposed) her act! And the reason is that she practiced it this way — all of the time.

Here Are The Steps To Practice Your Magic Correctly:

  • The first thing is to find out exactly what the correct moves are. This seems so obvious — and it is — that I bet most people overlook it. So, find out the right moves to do. This will be the original model by which to gauge your progress. Write them down step-by-step, if you have to.
  • Second, work on each step and it’s next step. Practice the steps broken-down rather than the entire move.
  • Third, when you practice, keep checking on how close you are to the original model — the correct model. Adjust what you are doing if you are “off”.
  • Fourth, practice without thinking about the “move”. The best way of doing this is to do the move while watching television. This is because you are thinking about and looking at something else. And, if you can do the move while you are preoccupied, you will learn the move well!
  • Fifth, check again how close you are to the original model. Adjust your practicing to get the move back to the correct model.

Now, of course, the above is for something small, like a card move or a coin vanish. For bigger things like a manipulation act or even an illusion, you can follow the above — without the television, of course. This is where a video camera to capture your movements would be handy.

So, remember to practice right because practice doesn’t make perfect… perfect practice makes perfect!



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