Learn to Perform Magic: Books and DVDs

As a new magician, you may find yourself faced with a bewildering array of books and DVDs, all claiming to show you how to blow people away. If you’re wondering where to start, you’ll find some recommendations below.

Whether it’s better to learn magic by reading about it or by watching a recording of someone teaching the moves is a debate that has been going on in the magic community since the birth of video. Basically, I think it comes down to whatever works for you and I suggest you try some of each. The main reason some magicians advocate books over DVDs is that learning from a book leaves some space that can be filled by your imagination; two people learning the same trick from the same book are more likely to produce something slightly different than are two people who learnt the same trick from the same DVD. If you see and hear the teaching magician present the trick, it can be easy to fall into the trap of replicating exactly what that magician does, down to the same jokes and intonation. I’ve even heard someone who had learnt a trick from a magician whose first language is not English present that effect speaking in the creator’s foreign accent! Clearly, this is not only ridiculous, it’s a bad idea all round. Learn the moves from more experienced magicians, learn how to achieve the effect, but use your own jokes or interesting asides to create your own patter. Make the magic your own.

Books to Teach You Magic

Because so many magicians seem to start at a very young age, beginners’ magic courses tend to be geared towards children and teenagers. If you’re grown up, don’t be put off by this – it’s only the most dedicated youngsters who will bother to put in the work required to pull off these tricks convincingly.

It makes sense to begin with the more open secrets of magic and gradually progress to the more closely guarded mysteries as you get more capable and knowledgeable. The fact that these books are available through Amazon, rather than a specialist magic shop reflects both the growing general interest in magic these days (which is great) and the fact that secrets are no longer kept and respected in the way they used to be (which is sad but undeniable – you’ve only got to look how much revelation goes on on YouTube). With the material in the beginners’ books, you won’t fool everybody but, assuming you perform it well, you’ll fool most of the people most of the time and at this stage you probably can’t ask much more.

Nicholas Einhorn’s Magic Books

Nick Einhorn is a good teacher as well as a fantastic magician and one of our British magical heroes. He has written several books for new magicians, all extremely popular and widely accessible – I’ve seen them for sale at motorway services here in Britain, as well as in bookshops not only in this country but in New York when I was there a few years ago.

These are entry-level books, providing you with a solid grounding in how magic works. A good place to start is probably The Art of Magic and Sleight of Hand, which gives you a brief history of the magical art and teaches tricks you can do with a variety of props, many of which you may have around the house already. The instructions are clearly and beautifully illustrated with colour photographs.

Joshua Jay’s Magic: The Complete Course

Josh Jay is an American magic legend and, like Nick, someone who thinks carefully about magic. This comprehensive course gives you step-by-step instructions, illustrated with photos, and includes a DVD, so you have both approaches in one.

Learn to perform tricks with everyday objects and how to present them so they seem like magic. Since this is a complete course, it starts with simple effects that are easy to master and moves you gradually on to more advanced effects that take more practice. If you stick with it, by the end you’ll be a pretty accomplished magician.

Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic

Mark Wilson is another of America’s top magicians and has been magic consultant to several film and television productions, including The Magician, Columbo (see Films about Magicians) and The Incredible Hulk.

This book is well known to be one of the very best magic courses available and is recommended by Derren Brown. With study and practice, someone with no knowledge of magic at all can get a firm grasp of the basics and then progress to slightly more challenging effects. The explanations are clear and well illustrated and there’s enough material in here to keep you going for a long time, covering all sorts of magic, right up to stage illusions.

DVDs to Teach You Magic

Here are some suggestions for DVDs to teach you the basics and beyond.

The Exciting World of Magic

American magician Michael Ammar is renowned not only as one of the best close-up magicians in the world but also as an enthusiastic and effective teacher of magic. This DVD gives you a good introduction to different types of magic and also offers sound advice about getting started as a magician.

Read more and maybe buy The Exciting World of Magic from Magicbox.

Ultimate Beginner’s Magic (Vol 1)

James Anthony is a successful British magician who is also a magic dealer. This DVD teaches an interesting variety of tricks and tells you what you need to know to start making magic happen.

Read more and maybe buy Ultimate Beginner’s Magic from Magic World.

Jaw Droppers (4-DVD set)

American magician and actor Larry Anderson takes you from beginner to intermediate with this easygoing and inspiring course.

Read more and maybe buy Jaw Droppers from Dude That’s Cool Magic.

Then there are DVDs that focus on one genre of magic. Recommended in this category are:

Ultimate Self Working Card Tricks (Vol 1)

Particularly for a beginner, it’s satisfying to be able to master some stunning effects without having to learn any complicated moves. Even with self-working tricks, you still need to practise, of course, but this DVD shows you how to do achieve some amazing effects without any challenging manoeuvres.

Read more and maybe buy Ultimate Self Working Card Tricks from Dude That’s Cool Magic.

Born to Perform

If you’re serious about card magic and want to learn the skills associated with it, this DVD from Penguin Magic is for you. American magician Oz Pearlman teaches you more or less everything it’s possible to do with a pack of cards. Thorough and comprehensive, it takes you from beginner to expert.

Read more and maybe buy Born to Perform from Dude That’s Cool Magic.

Amazing Easy to Learn Magic Tricks

There’s a series of DVDs called Amazing Easy to Learn Magic Tricks, with different DVDs for different genres of magic. They are available from Dude That’s Cool Magic and you can choose the one(s) that interest you most:

Coin Tricks, Money Tricks, Card Tricks with no Sleight of Hand, Paper Magic, Rope Magic, Tricks with Everyday Objects… and there are others.