I have been teaching magic for over 25 years, and I have seen it be a transformative experience for so many kids of different ages, temperaments, interests, and backgrounds. I began learning magic when I was five years old, and I started delving deeply into it when I was in 5th grade. As I performed for friends, classmates, and family I loved the effect that it had on others. And I could tell that it was doing amazing things for me as well. Today, magic is an important part of my own life as I teach it to students at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes and perform it during school assemblies and while walking through our school buildings. I continue to hone my craft through online tutorials, magic conventions, and monthly gatherings of my local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM). In the summer of 2017, I was sworn into the IBM’s Order of Merlin, becoming a true wizard! In this blog I plan to share how one can become a magician, but I wanted to begin by sharing the many ways that magic can help your child.
Magic Builds Self-confidence
I know this from experience. I was a really shy kid who was pretty uncoordinated too. Some kids gain confidence through athletics, and that was certainly not going to be the case for me. Others gain it by playing an instrument. That was not my path either. My parents thought that magic might help me to be more confident in my interactions with peers and adults alike, so my dad starting teaching it to me when I was five. Few people know how to do magic, so it’s something special and unique. And it’s empowering for a child to be able to do something that can baffle and entertain both kids and adults alike.
- Magic Builds Public Speaking Skills
Good magic is about storytelling. It’s not just about a trick or sleight of hand or a prop- it’s about sharing something special in a way that makes an audience care. When young magicians get up in front of their friends or their class or their family to perform they are getting practice sharing their thoughts and ideas in clear, interesting, compelling, funny, moving, and entertaining ways. This is a skill that is transferred to other presentations that they will need to do in school or later in life. Also, adding magic itself to a presentation about something entirely different will make it a memorable one indeed! (As an attorney, my father would work it into speeches about what he said were really boring, esoteric legal topics...and he always received compliments for what he shared!)
- Magic Spreads Joy and Wonder
Most people enjoy magic. (There are some who dislike it, especially if they feel like the magician is just trying to pull something over on them and make them feel stupid, but that is the exception!) Magic makes people smile with joy, it makes them gasp in amazement, it transports them into a fantasy world where the laws of science and reason are turned upside down in entertaining and baffling ways. Inspired by my father who performed magic for pediatric cancer patients while he himself was battling cancer, my magic students have always performed as part of service learning- in hospitals, homeless shelters, retirement homes, and more. Regardless of one’s circumstances, experiencing magic can certainly brighten your day.
- Magic Enables One to Build Bridges and Connections
Magic is a great entre into a conversation. It’s a wonderful icebreaker. It’s a tool that can help one overcome the discomfort and awkwardness of new situations or environments. It’s a great skill to have for a school talent show or gathering of any type. Magic has no boundaries. In high school I traveled to Western Europe and the former Soviet Union, and magic helped me to cross political, cultural, and language boundaries. Mattie Brown, a former student of mine, performed for doctors, nurses, and fellow patients when he was undergoing cancer treatment, building instant rapport with people of all ages.
- Anyone Can Be a Magician
Whether you are introverted or extroverted, whether you are younger or older, whether you have big hands or small hands, with focused attention and lots of practice you can become a magician. You don’t need innate skill, you don’t need a lot of money, and you don’t need access to lots of equipment or large spaces. Many professional magicians began their journey with a book from the library, a few coins, a couple of rubber bands, and a deck of cards.
If you are not yet convinced that magic is a must for your child, my next post will be “5 More Reasons Your Child Should Learn Magic.”