Tips and Advice from a Young Magician - Part 1

by Cathal Kielty

In this essay I will share with you any tips and advice I have learned on performing magic. I will look over the common mistakes made by beginner level magicians and even fully-fledged pro magicians tend to make. I will tackle 2 common mistakes in part 1 but more to come in part 2.

1. Being tricked by the kings of advertising

Here is a very common problem among many magicians starting out in this wonderful art. And I think it should be brought to the world's attention. Having not defined what this common problem is I will do so now. When many people start out in magic they first set their sights on gimmicks (now this is not everyone so do not get offended), which is natural enough. And I don't want a big argument about which being better gimmicks or sleights, I personally think but can be used together to an enjoyable extent for the magician and equally mystifying for the spectator.

But the problem lies in the fact that magic dealers manipulate more customers than Derren Brown does with his audiences. It's a bit like impulse buying, you might go to buy a magic book but then you see this deck that can do all these amazing things and it only costs 5 you buy that as well. But then when you learn how to do it, you will very rarely perform it again. So magicians beware in what you buy, look around for reviews and compare prices with other dealers and you'll find that you'll buy props/books/videos that you would use more than you would if you had bought the cheaper items.

2. Practice Makes Perfect

You've heard that saying before but how many people listen to it? A common factor among beginner level magicians and sometimes pro's is when they learn how to DO A TRICK, they think they have it perfected but that is totally wrong. You have not an effect perfected until you can do it in your sleep. Well maybe not in your sleep but until you can do it without having to think. This applies even to those gimmicked tricks that 'advertise' that no practice is required. That is totally wrong even a self -working trick needs practice. Once you can pull off an effect without having to think about it then you can start to add patter or incorporate it with other effects in your routine. It's like learning to drive a car you have to practice to let everything come automatically to you and then if you ever need to stop suddenly without having to think you put your foot on the brake, and until you can do your magic without having to think, you have not mastered one effect. Good ways to practice is in front of a mirror or being recorded by a video camera and then look back and see how it looked.

These thoughts were all my opinions and thoughts and are NOT gospel. But they are my experiences in magic so far and I feel I should share them with you because I'm sure it will help some beginning magician. There will be more advice to come in part 2 in a few weeks.

Thanks for reading,

Cathal Kielty (you can email me at if you have any comments to make)


Cathal Kielty June 2002