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10 Things I Know About Magic w/ Tom Dobrowolski

10 Things I Know About Magic w/ Tom Dobrowolski

One of the first set of lecture notes I put together I titled “10 Things I Know For Sure”.

At the time my boss for my day job used to stop in my office and ask “ What do you know for sure?” It was his way of starting a conversation. I used that title for those notes for that same reason.

Recently I was asked to write about 10 things I think beginning magicians should know. I’ve been involved with magic for 55 years. I thought back over those years and the magicians I’ve known and came up with the below list. If you asked me tomorrow, I’m sure some of these would change or I’ll remember something I should have mentioned.

These are not really “10 Things I Know For Sure” but I do think it’s a helpful list to those starting in the art of magic and to start a conversation.

1. Remember how it feels to be amazed and fooled.

You most likely became interested in magic after being amazed and fooled by some tricks you saw. The more you learn about magic over time the less you’ll actually be fooled by the magic you see. It’s important to remember how you felt when you saw your first magic tricks. That’s what magic is all about.

2. Don’t be disappointed by the methods used in magic.

When you first see how simple many of the methods are your initial reaction will be “Really? I was fooled by that?” Yes, really, they are that simple and they work. Don’t get discouraged that there is no real “magic” and that the methods are no where near as clever or cool as James Bonds (Avengers) devices.

3. Buy a mix of tricks and books.

Both are important in learning magic. You want to get a few simple tricks you can learn and master to get some quick wins and gratification. Books will provide you with techniques, theory and tricks you will learn and be able to apply to all your magic. Both help you lay a strong foundation that will benefit you immensely as you grow in magic. You may not use or even understand it all at first. It’s building a “toolbox” so you’ll have the right tool when you need it.

4. Don’t buy every trick and book you see in the ads.

Believe me I know the temptation is there to buy everything you see. First of all you’ll soon find out a lot of magic ads are more deceptive than the actual tricks themselves. You’ll also learn to read between the lines in the ads and learn “magic ad speak” as well as to watch the video demos more closely. If you get too much you’ll be jumping between it all get overwhelmed and never really lean anything.

5. Take your time.

There’s no rush to learn and know it all. Since you’ll learn many of the actual methods/ secrets are quite simple you’ll begin to think you know it all pretty quickly. You won’t. I’m still learning, Take the time to read, learn, watch and explore. The more you do the better you’ll become and the more you’ll enjoy it.

6. Know who and what came before you.

Magic didn’t start with the latest hot new trick or performer that came on the market last week. There’s a rich and robust history of methods, tricks and personalities. Unfortunately magic is known lately for a lot of reinvention of methods and tricks. The best way to learn and advance yourself and the art of magic is to know what came before you.

7. Seek out real time meet ups and if you’re really lucky a mentor.

Online is fine for some research and introductions but most online “experts” are rarely that. Seek out a local magic club or informal group that meets in your area or maybe if you’re lucky a brick and mortar magic shop. If there isn’t one start one. Try and attend one of the many local and regional magic conventions. When you do meet up remember you’re all there to learn and share. When you ask questions really listen to the answers. Be open and respectful of each other and the craft.

8. When and if you choose to perform your magic for others... prepared and pay attention to the folks reactions during and after you perform for them. Don’t perform at/to them perform for them. Magic is about what they experience and not how clever you are. Start by performing for family and friends. They know you best and will provide the most honest reactions and feedback. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t go great the first few times you perform. We’re not doing brain surgery here. Try to understand why and adjust from there. I guarantee you’ll get better.

9. Remember not everyone loves or even likes magic.

I know you may find that hard to believe but it’s true. Don’t take it personally.

10. Have fun and enjoy it all!

This is really the most important thing of all.


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Rob - June 10, 2024

Good list, I would add to learn a few tricks you can do anywhere, anytime. If friends hear you do magic, and they are keen to see something, it’s a bit disappointing for them to hear “sorry, I don’t have all my special props on me”.

Ron Allcock - June 10, 2024

Great article. A good reminder of things we tend to forget.

Here is my number 11. Write things down. Even during a show. I once did knife thru coat and asked my son for a knife. I looked at the crowd and said, “we’re from the west side.” It got a laugh. I asked a lady volunteer to check the knife over to make sure it was real. She struggled with it. Someone in the crowd yelled, “she’s not from the west side!” That got a bigger laugh. I stopped what I was doing, told the guy that was a good line and told my son to write it down. That got a laugh.

Hải Phạm - June 10, 2024

Thank you for sharing

Emaan - June 10, 2024

In my 24 years of experience as a magician, I also made the ‘mistake’ in the beginning of buying almost every magic trick. This has had two consequences, namely:
1) that I am no longer tempted to buy ‘everything’
2) my selection quickly went in a certain direction – my specialization in the field of magic. In the meantime, I also create and develop a number of tricks myself that leave a lasting impression on the audience.
Thank you Tom Dobrolwski and Big Blind Media for sharing this information. I’m curious to know more.

Andy Kean - June 10, 2024

One to add perhaps, Don’t Over Burden your wife/loved one’s with your enthusiasm for your latest trick no matter how well practiced or not. Magic is your hobby/passion not theirs so treat people with good grace if they aren’t quite as enthusiastic as you hope, especially if you are a “frequent shower”

Abe Carnow - June 10, 2024

Fantastically useful list. Thank you so much, Tom.

Steve Buesking - June 10, 2024

Jimmy “Cards” Molinari once told me that he sits back, watches the performance, and enjoys being fooled. If the effect is worth learning, he will later, but don’t cheat yourself from the moment created. I found that advice well worth following.

Jose Ruiz - June 10, 2024

Great advice. I just wish there was a mentor near me to learn from and jam with.
I will settle for crisp pages from books and the awesome videos that BBM makes.

Thanks again,
Jose Ruiz

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