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Beneath the Trapdoor #10 with Bronson Chadwick - Ten Things That Happen When You Rehearse

[It’s been a year since I last published one of these pieces. I took some time away from writing Beneath the Trapdoor to work on a book that I hope to publish in the summer. Stay tuned.]


Every magician knows the real secret of magic is rehearsal. Learning to do a trick is but the first baby step in magic. But those few magicians who dedicate their time and attention to rigorous rehearsal sessions are the ones who are remembered. Will you be remembered?


1. - You Resist the Disease of Newness. Do you have a collection of magic supplies that never sees the light of day? Magicians have a problem that other artists lack: we love to buy stuff. The consumerism bug has infiltrated every aspect of the lives of modern people, especially here in America. There’s nothing wrong with collecting material but so many magicians make the mistake of thinking “if only I had item X, then everything would be better.” When you rehearse you are practicing a form of gratitude which is the antidote to craving more stuff. Furthermore, rehearsal makes you realize that it’s never about the stuff, but about you as a performer!


2. - You Discover New Ideas. While some of my best material comes from the pressure of being on stage, so many more amazing ideas come to me while rehearsing. When you rehearse regularly you train your brain to think creatively on schedule! You will then begin producing original material.


3. - You Discover Yourself. Rehearsing in front of a mirror or camera forces you to do something we all hate doing: watching yourself. You see every flaw, awkward tick, and suspicious moment, which is a good thing. A performer who cannot accurately identify themselves in terms of onstage (or closeup) character is a threat to themselves. Rehearsing allows you the opportunity to change the negative qualities about your persona before going on stage oblivious to yourself.


4. - You Forget Your Heroes. When you’re focused on improving yourself as a performer, you tend to let go of your desire to emulate your idols. Discovering yourself in magic helps you to see in stark contrast who you are and are not. Whenever I see a magician imitating another magician there are two tragedies on stage: (1) The onstage copycat magician does the original performer a disservice in creating a poor shadow of the original and (2) the copycat neglects the fact that they have the capability to be a magician unlike anyone else in history!


5. - You Build Self-Confidence. Magicians should always be confident, but not cocky. The magician is the closest thing to a real-life superhero that people will ever meet. If that superhero bumbles about during a performance, then the audience’s expectations are unmet, and magic is punished. While all magicians have a bad night here or there, the magician who consistently attracts that bad luck is the one who fails to rehearse and build self-confidence. With ample practice, the magician not only builds up their confidence as a performer but also as a businessperson. When you’ve rehearsed intensively, you’ll feel comfortable going up on your fees!


6. - You Elevate Magic Artistically. I see magicians trying out underbaked ideas frequently, often as the result of hype over a new trick on the market. The trick is rushed, and the performance suffers, demoting the art of magic to the level of puzzles. Worse yet, the audience suffers through an unpleasant experience. The magician who buys props but fails to rehearse is like a painter who thinks that they will be respected for their high-quality art supplies and yet cannot paint. Art does not come automatically.


7. - You Develop Muscle Memory. As a kid I played two musical instruments: the flute and the tuba. Both required the ability to learn specialized and awkward muscle movements. Likewise, rehearsing magic trains your body to know the movements without concentration, allowing you to engage the audience without bothering to look down to see if the gap on the Linking Ring is showing or if the Thumb Tip is flashing. Rehearsing movements allows you to be in the moment with your audience without worrying about the small stuff. To evaluate your muscle memory, try rehearsing your act in complete darkness!


8. - You Gain Appreciation for Magic. The magician who rehearses intensively is often the quietest person in the room at magic conventions and club meetings. The truly seasoned pro greets the art calmly with respect and acts with humility and grace (two things the magic community could use more of). Those magicians who rehearse resolutely also are those who exhibit a great deal of patience which is required in rehearsal! When we as magicians gain this appreciation for magic, we treat it as an art. Only then can we expect the public to do likewise.


9. - You Gain the Respect of Non-Magicians. Members of laity often do not regard the workday of the commercial magician as something respectable until they realize that an industrious magician isn’t at home fidgeting with cards but is engaging in intensive study and training during rehearsal times. Your family and close friends (who should NOT be watching you rehearse) will know that you’re locked away in your magic room preparing to eventually do something amazing and important.


10. - You Learn to Adapt Under Pressure. Rehearsal removes undue pressure from a performance allowing you to cope with emergencies. No matter your skill level in magic, eventually something WILL go wrong. A force card will be missed or perhaps you’ll knick your fingers while cutting rope. Things also happen beyond your control. Your technician may miss an important light cue! Rehearsal allows you ample training to recover from such countless disasters by thinking quickly


Take joy in your rehearsals!

What do YOU think? Write to me at

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