“Magic has this power, you know. It has the gift of offering the performer the chance to do something different – which goes against science or against logic,” said Julie Eng, a magician based in Toronto. “And that causes attention to activate. And I think that’s the lure for so many people in magic.”
Magicians use card tricks especially for seamless sleight of hand that wows audiences and entertains children and adults alike. And the cards – which have gone hand in hand with magic for centuries and could be the quintessential magic trick – are some of the most accessible for novices.
To learn more about the magic of card tricks, we chatted with Eng, who is also the Executive Director of Magicana, an organization that promotes the art of magic. Naturally, she preserves the mystique of her work, so its deceptive effects are not disclosed here. But she still has plenty of advice for those entering magic for the first time.
Why card tricks
There are a number of reasons for learning card tricks. Maybe the trickery itself is luring or learning a new skill to impress your friends. For Eng, it’s not so much about cheating on someone as it is about instilling a sense of wonder and pleasure in an audience. “For me, the point is to entertain,” she said, calling the magic and card tricks “diversionary entertainment.” “I’m not going to change the world with a card trick, but I think I can make someone smile or open a conversation or open a dialogue or create some form of engagement. And that, for me personally, is a really interesting tool. “
There are other lesser-known benefits of learning to perform card tricks. As part of his work with Magicana, Eng volunteers with My magic hands, a program for at-risk and hospitalized youth. The program aims to develop self-confidence, dexterity and creativity by learning magic tricks, and Eng said adults can reap the same benefits.
How to start
The intricacies of learning and performing a card trick pose a series of technical challenges, which Eng says can be great for experimenting, and with a clear way to measure progress (your ability to do the trick). turn versus not knowing anything when you started).
“I think this trip is really important because you are turning into a magician,” she said. “The card trick stays the same throughout, but… the staging, the flow, the choreography, the direction of it – all of that has to be worked on. lets change a bit and be a bit more outside of themselves. “
Eng has always had maps at hand. “My dad was a magician, so the card game was always there,” she said. In fact, she carries a deck wherever she goes, ready to perform anytime. “The second they find out I’m a magician, [people ask],… ‘Can you do a card trick?’ “She said.
While you don’t need to be ready to perform wherever you go, almost anywhere can be an opportunity to do so, whether it’s for your friends, family, or just yourself.
Beyond a standard card game, Eng said good instructions are essential for learning card tricks. Although many contemporary learners turn to video tutorials, of which there are many, Eng recommended books like the ones his father sold in his magic shop. She named authors Joshua Jay and Marc Wilson, two big names in the magical world.
Eng said you can find exceptionally good magic books in libraries as well – resources that will lead you to the right card trick for you. “From there you can find a path that makes it interesting for you,” she said. “You will find an effect that speaks to you. And then this effect will be fine … and this resource will then put you [onto] another resource [and] on another resource. “
If you like to learn in a group, it is also possible to take lessons. “It’s the other way to learn too: find a group – but at your level – and progress together, you know, because then you can have a safe [space] to play and bounce ideas, ”said Eng. She frequently practices new tricks with a group of friends, and they give each other constructive reviews on what works and what doesn’t.
How it’s made
There are many online card tutorials. Here’s a favorite tips tutorial from our friends at CBC Kids.
There are a variety of card tricks – even the simple “pick a card, any card” trick has variations. “Some people like very procedural magic tricks. Some people like… what we call punch or finger magic tricks. Some people like very direct magic tricks.” Eng said, “ There is a range you can reach. “
Like any other skill, practice is key. Many people mistakenly believe that magic is easy to do and expect to be good right away, but there are a myriad of things to remember when learning card tricks and preparing for performances. “There’s a lot of pre-planning,” Eng said. “I think of it as a little mini-game: How are you going to start? How are you going to perform it? … How do people know when you are done? And how do you conclude your performance? is equally important, I think, a good experience. “
You can buy a magic kit, but Eng warns that your audience might credit the prop you bought rather than your skills. If you really want to play and learn a card trick, it’s worth practicing on your own and even recording yourself while you master it. “By training and playing for yourself, I think it’s very satisfying when you finally… get the gist,” Eng said. “There’s a tremendous sense of satisfaction in that – whether it worked or the sequencing you worked on made sense.” When you’re ready, perform in front of someone you trust – and ask for notes, which Eng says is key to improving your performance.
“Work on a few people first, then maybe think, ‘You know, the comment that this person made after I went around was interesting because it indicated that they understood something inside. of my performance of the effect, and I would like to eliminate this problem, ”she said. “So you see, you also learn from listening to your audience. And that means you have to be so trained and prepared for your own performance that you can have that objective eye while you play.”
According to Eng, taking the time to learn and love the craft is definitely worth the challenge. “I think that will pay you off quite richly. You know, that has always been my belief,” she said. “And don’t be afraid of the fight.”
Sebastian Yūe is a Toronto-based writer, model, voice actor, and multi-game player. They are the author of Lake of Secrets, an adventure for Dungeons & Dragons (5th edition), and CORPUS, an unofficial supplement for Heart: The City Beneath. Sebastian has been playing cards since the age of six. Follow them on Twitter here.