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One of the frequently asked questions by beginning magicians is how to routine one’s magic act.

Let me answer it with an extended metaphor.

Julie Andrews (playing the character Maria in the movie The Sound of Music) said that if you learn the seven notes “that happen to be”, you can use them to write an entire song.

The Sound of Music Pictures, Images and PhotosIn the same manner, if you know your alphabet, you can write words. If you can write words, you can write sentences, then paragraphs, then a novel.

To take the analogy farther, if you learn the basics of performing magic, you can build not only routines but probably also a whole evening show.

Now I like to think that performing magic is a good training ground for self-sufficiency. While other performing artists need a half-dozen people (such as a writer, director, choreographer, etc.) to stage a show, a magician building an ambitious card routine is his own writer (he comes up with his own patter), director (he watches himself in the mirror and tries to judge how he should look in the eyes of his audience), choreographer (he learns to make hand movements and gestures).

Musical Notes - Detail Pictures, Images and Photos

This being the case, someone doing magic for a couple of years will be grounded on these aspects of the performing arts through experience. A stage actor, on the other hand, performing for the same number of years, will probably still need a writer, director, choreographer, etc., to be able to perform.

Now I’m mentioning all this because, first, I’m biased for magic. Second, because I want to emphasize the importance of grounding oneself in the “basic notes” or “the alphabet” of magic—-namely, the basics of sleights, misdirection, psychology of deception, movement, music, staging, acting, and speech.

One need not be outstanding in each, just well grounded. Once a magician becomes proficient in them, one day, like an Epiphany, he will get “it”. He will know how to routine his tricks just like a grade one pupil will one day discover he can combine different letters of the alphabet to form a word. Also, the magician will know what tricks to choose to please his audience, just like a student musician will one day learn which notes to combine together to create pleasant sounds.

Stay magical,



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