So how do you learn a new magic trick? Read about. Get the necessary props and try the trick in private. you will usually know right away if the trick is going to be any good. For example, I recently tried out a trick that involves threading somebodies ring over the four corners of a cloth restaurant napkin. Are you kidding? That is like trying to stuff a blanket through a straw. Next!

If the trick shows promise, though, most books advise you to try the trick in front of a mirror. (Now you know why Zoom Magician are so often in the bathroom.)

A mirror is great for letting you know what the audience sees, for making sure the secret isn’t visible, for practicing moves. But it has one huge drawback: You have to watch a mirror as you do the trick! That is nearly impossible to do.

In the real world, you will never be watching yourself; you will just be doing the trick. Many tricks take advantage of misdirection – directing your audience’s attention to the wrong place by looking there yourself. Well, guess what? It’s impossible to practice misdirection in the mirror, because the minute you look away from the mirror, you can not see how your doing!

Fortunately, you were foresighted enough to wait until the camcorder age to take up magic. The camcorder neatly solves the mirror problem: It lets you perform the trick exactly as you would perform it for an audience, complete with misdirection, eye contact, and so on – and still analyze your own weak spots by watching the videotape playback.

Not everyone has, or can borrow or rent, a video camera. But doing so makes a huge difference to the speed of mastering magic. It’s worth the investment.