Do you agree with Tamariz?

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.
User avatar
Posts: 4392
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby erdnasephile » May 2nd, 2013, 5:08 pm

One of the things I like about print media is that it's easy to grab an issue of a magazine off the shelf as you are on the way to the smallest room of the house. ;)

Accordingly, I have been repeatedly amazed at the wonderful articles I've missed or forgotten over the years.

One such article appears in the Oct, 2002 issue of Genii: Roberto Giobbi's remarkable interview with the incomparable Juan Tamariz.

One quote really caught my attention:

"...It is my belief that the only way to learn magic is from good magic books, rather than through a teacher, although this can be an advantage in the beginning..."
(Genii, Oct 2002, pg 45)

I find this sentiment interesting because of late, I've read several articles lamenting the lack of magic mentors, especially given the ongoing demise of the B & M magic shops.

However, as much as I value my early mentors, I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Sr. Tamariz. The vast majority of the things I perform for real people came from books.

At the same time, through the magic of the Internet, some of the authors of those very same books have become my mentors through their kind, voluminous replies to my questions about their respective material. They have helped me tremendously, and in many cases, spurred me on to my own discoveries.

Yet, I wonder if my growth as a performer would have been faster had I been taught face to face by some of these masters or was it better that I had to wrestle with the text at hand, perform the routines enough to develop those questions, and only then discuss them with the creators?

In that spirit, I'm just wondering what you all think of Sr. Tamariz' statement.

(I won't even mention what he says about videos :mrgreen: )
Last edited by erdnasephile on May 2nd, 2013, 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 9
Joined: May 16th, 2008, 8:05 am

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby camron » May 2nd, 2013, 5:22 pm

I agree with Tamariz, to a point. I have had a mentor for the last several years and he's really taught me alot of magic, but a lot more on presentation. i benefit from having him as a mentor because he's a working professional, he's really taught me some great things.

i do agree that books can be a great tool to learn, but i think the combination of both books and a mentor is great as well. i learn things from books and then go over them with my mentor, so really i have the best of both worlds!

User avatar
Bob Cunningham
Posts: 365
Joined: May 25th, 2008, 4:11 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Bob Cunningham » May 2nd, 2013, 5:34 pm

Rather than addressing modes of learning (visual, auditory, kinesthetic - which could be correlated to books, videos, coaching) perhaps he is touching on something that Tommy Wonder commented on in his Books of Wonder: "I firmly believe magic can't be taught. It can be learned, but it can't be taught. You must do it yourself; there is no other way. There are no short cuts to real results, no matter what some may try to make you believe."

IMHO most (perhaps all) skills and arts must be learned. The volume of complex information need to be a good magician (or sculptor, singer, writer, etc.) is so complex, and so tied to your unique gifts and circumstances, that no one could teach you all that you need to be effective. In magic, I think most successful people discover in the process performing areas of need. This could be slights, presentational skills, etc. They then seek out resources to address those needs.

User avatar
Q. Kumber
Posts: 1690
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Manchester, England

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Q. Kumber » May 2nd, 2013, 6:35 pm

Books and mentors are good up to a point for learning magic. But the best way of really learning and understanding magic is thousands of hours in front of audiences.

Larry Horowitz
Posts: 438
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: L.A.

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Larry Horowitz » May 2nd, 2013, 6:39 pm

A teacher can teach you a magic trick.

To learn magic requires a thought process and understanding. These can come from a book.

Posts: 231
Joined: April 12th, 2008, 8:19 pm

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby magicfish » May 5th, 2013, 9:40 am

I absolutely agree.

User avatar
Brad Jeffers
Posts: 1091
Joined: April 11th, 2008, 5:52 pm
Location: Savannah, GA

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Brad Jeffers » May 5th, 2013, 9:28 pm

erdnasephile wrote:"...It is my belief that the only way to learn magic is from good magic books

A ridiculous statement. Had he said the best way to learn magic is from books, then he would have a debatable point, but to say it is the only way is absurd. Just listen to Ricky Jay talk of his time spent with Vernon and Miller, or Mike Skinner tell of his relationship with Eddie Fechter.

I think most people learn magic from books, without the benefit of personal instruction. That's just the way it is. It seems illogical to think that I could learn a David Roth routine from his book, but not from David himself, one on one.

Remember that at one point in history the only way to learn magic was from personal instruction. There were no magic books.

User avatar
Posts: 228
Joined: October 24th, 2012, 4:07 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby MManchester » May 5th, 2013, 11:50 pm

Roberto Giobbi specifically mentions on his Card College DVD that the advantage of video is seeing that a particular effect can be achieved when a mentor is unavailable. Reading a description of a particular sleight can be intimidating; it can seem impossible for an audience to be amazed by often simple deception or that a sleight can be learned at all with practice.

I love magic books, but as I get older I have found it increasingly difficult to follow the steps for an effect. This is especially true if there are multiple steps contained in a single paragraph. And I don't think anyone else noted that not all authors are of comparable skill. Some may be great in person but lack the ability for clear communication in writing.

There are advantages and disadvantages to all methods of learning. As was previously noted, there was a time when magic books didn't exist. In the ideal world, I believe specific sleights would be taught by a mentor with books used for describing effects, theory and history.
Michael Manchester
Literacy magic for library and school performances -

Posts: 58
Joined: February 22nd, 2012, 11:58 am
Location: USA

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby atkinsod » May 7th, 2013, 11:48 am

There are many magicians who have stories about having purchased an effect, read the instructions, and relegated the effect to the bottom drawer...until they saw another magician perform that effect and fool everyone! Suddenly they gain a new respect for what the written word just didn't portray. Now, granted, many instruction sheets are quite lacking in their ability to convey the magic, but sometimes a combination of media is certainly helpful.

Personally, I like to see videos to help get an understanding of the overall effect, but I'd rather learn from books. I have tons of books, but very few videos.

Posts: 169
Joined: July 19th, 2009, 3:03 am
Location: Ridley Park, PA USA

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby J-Mac » May 8th, 2013, 10:50 pm

For me the best way to learning magic effects is primarily through reading magic books, plus a video - even just a decent performance video and not necessarily an explanation - so I can see the effect performed in real time. I do learn best from books, probably because that is how I have learned all my life. Video performances of the effects/routines can show me the timing, body movements and/or blocking, etc.

I have never had the luxury of a mentor or perhaps I would consider that the best way to learn. Those who DO have mentors are hopefully very appreciative of a learning method that not all magicians are fortunate enough to have!

Thank you.


Andy Young
Posts: 11
Joined: May 7th, 2013, 9:00 am
Favorite Magician: Daryl, John Mendoza

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Andy Young » May 24th, 2013, 1:25 am

Learning from a mentor lets you learn from one person. That person either learned from another mentor and/or a book or another medium. Either way they learned how to perform from someone or learned to do it on there own. When you learn from a book, you learn to put yourself into the effect. Learning from a mentor puts part of them into your presentation.

I think a mentor is a good way to go. These online forums is a kind of mentor where you can get advice on what to learn and how to go about moves.

In the end if you put time into learning from a book then you have the dedication to learn magic.

Jonathan Townsend
Posts: 8409
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Westchester, NY

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 24th, 2013, 8:15 am

"...It is my belief that the only way to learn magic is from good magic books, rather than through a teacher, although this can be an advantage in the beginning..."
(Genii, Oct 2002, pg 45)

Hard to disagree with the observation about "in the beginning". Not everyone is going to read Shakespeare and become Peter Brook.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Posts: 235
Joined: March 13th, 2008, 2:57 pm

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby PapaG » May 24th, 2013, 1:34 pm

I'm paraphrasing but Ken Krenzel, on his Pass video, says something along the lines of 'no one has ever learnt to perform a good-looking pass only from a book'.

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25814
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 24th, 2013, 2:08 pm

Did Ken say that? He learned the Pass from reading Ralph Read's explanation in Tarbell.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

John Lovick
Posts: 198
Joined: July 14th, 2008, 12:11 am

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby John Lovick » May 24th, 2013, 3:18 pm

Interestingly enough, in "Deceptive Practice" the documentary about Ricky Jay, Ricky says almost the opposite. Don't have an exact quote, but he says he likes books but the only (or best) way to learn magic is one on one from a mentor.

Posts: 404
Joined: February 26th, 2012, 9:22 pm

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby brianarudolph » May 24th, 2013, 4:09 pm

I'll echo the combo approach, but I love finding and learning something from a book FIRST. The book gives me a starting point but projects that starting point through my own lens and abilities to convert those printed words into the magical performance the way that I am interpreting and envisioning.

Who can think of Luke Skywalker and not see Mark Hamill? Or Harry Potter and not see Daniel Radcliff? Yet anyone reading the books before seeing the movie (or anything from the movie) are likely to have envisioned these characters with a host of differing details.

Much like reading a novel, you and I and a hundred others may read the exact same words but have performances with many significant differences. Once I move on to a mentor/video, I am much more inclined to follow precisely what I am seeing.

Granted, "following precisely what I am seeing" has corrected some serious flaws for me on many occasions. Granted, sometimes the first time I even hear of something is on video/DVD/live/from a mentor (I have never encountered David's Cull anywhere in print, so how could I learn it there first?)

But I don't think there's any wrong way to start. All I'm saying is that I personally PREFER to first (attempt to) learn something from a book whenever possible and go from there. I enjoy seeing how close I may have come to what others are doing ... or how far off I am.

User avatar
Posts: 4392
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby erdnasephile » May 24th, 2013, 5:55 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Did Ken say that? He learned the Pass from reading Ralph Read's explanation in Tarbell.

Yes, he said this on his Videonics video. I believe he said that he thought it may be impossible to learn the pass without an expert teaching you in person. (Which at the time, made me wonder why I even bought the tape!)

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1951
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Leonard Hevia » May 26th, 2013, 7:00 pm

Master Payne's article "The Myth of Mentoring" in the January 2013 issue of Magic Magazine is definitely food for thought here. He argues that while mentoring can be productive for the apprentice, it is also a double-edged sword that can pass on bad habits and promote limited thinking.

You have to wonder if Slydini's insistence in initially copying him to learn his techniques was a good idea.

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25814
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 26th, 2013, 7:59 pm

Personally, I don't think you need someone to teach you person-to-person, but you do need to see it so you understand what it's supposed to look like. That "seeing" can be in person, but it can also be on a DVD or YouTube. Most people, if they haven't seen a Pass, don't know that it's supposed to be done quite fast.

And I definitely remember Krenzel telling me that he learned it from the written Ralph Read description.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

Al Schneider
Posts: 141
Joined: July 8th, 2010, 8:55 pm

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Al Schneider » June 7th, 2013, 6:19 am

I would like to share my experience.
I was fortunate to be in Detroit during my education into magic.
I rubbed shoulders with many well versed people.
However, I feel like I learned most from books.
I also feel that I learned much from understanding what the goal was.
I think a lot of the information I received from those I listened to were not totally accurate.
But here is what I wish to share.
I ran a school of magic for about 6 years in Minneapolis.
I held class in a meeting room in a hotel in downtown Minneapolis.
During that time I ran hundreds of people through my classes.
In general, the results were spectacular.
Most of the students were new to magic.
In general in a few weeks these people were performing solid stuff.
In a sense I did not teach.
Each trick was broken into parts and the student rehearsed little parts until mastered.
In this environment, saying reading a book would be better is very difficult.
I have noticed something else about magic teachers.
They often do not know what they are doing and thus cannot relate there work to a student.
I have observed in my own work that I sometimes do not know what I am doing.
I would show something to a student and the student could not duplicate it.
With careful self introspection, I had to admit I did not know what I was doing.
Careful study was required to figure this out.
Then when I showed it to a student, they got it.
Also, the process of teaching is very educational.
When you offer something to someone and watch them, they seem a mirror that reflects you.
What you get back often does not resemble what you offered.
Reconciling these differences is sobering.
I think an honest answer to the question is that, "It depends."
Al Schneider
The single absolute truth is that we don't know.

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25814
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 7th, 2013, 11:11 am

Great thoughts, Al!

In my experience of describing other people's material over the past 35 years, I have also found that some folks are doing things they don't realize, or doing things in a way other than they thought. Part of the writer's job is to figure that out.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

User avatar
Matthew Field
Posts: 2846
Joined: January 18th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Slydini
Location: Hastings, England, UK

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Matthew Field » June 7th, 2013, 11:53 am

I read (studied) magic books for more than 10 years before I started taking lessons from Mr. Kaufman.

I won't generalize, but I will say that perhaps the greatest thing I learned from Richard was a way of thinking, a process of turning the printed word into effective magic. He showed me things I had read and ignored and, under his guidance, I was able to appreciate these things anew.

It may be that Tamariz already had that ability, or that other magicians don't need even a book to be great (Slydini, say, or Stewart James). But for me, having Richard as a mentor changed my entire approach to magic.

Matt Field

Posts: 564
Joined: September 27th, 2008, 8:34 pm

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby JHostler » June 7th, 2013, 5:07 pm

Tamariz is simply wrong. Different students benefit from different approaches - ask any seasoned kindergarten, primary, or secondary teacher. Or college professor, for that matter.

Books are better for me, in large part because I seek to preserve the sanity of would-be mentors. Less surly folk might do better face-to-face.
"Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong." H.L. Mencken

Tony Tuccillo
Posts: 175
Joined: March 19th, 2008, 10:35 pm
Location: Fleming Island, Florida

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Tony Tuccillo » June 7th, 2013, 11:53 pm

Before this goes too much further let's look at the context in which the statement was made 11 years ago and probably spoken in Spanish and translated to English. I believe Juan's intent when he used the words "the only way to learn magic is from good magic books....." was referring to creating magical presentations that are your own and after you had moved past the 'beginner stage'.

Take a look at the rest of the paragraph during the interview between he and Roberto Giobbi: "When you learn a routine by reading a book you are free to imagine how it is done because you have not yet seen it performed and therefore it stimulates you to develop your own presentation and style. By reading you really have to work through the material to be able to understand its content, and therefore the brain is forced into action, making the experience almost spiritual. This enables you to really put yourself into the piece and you love it almost as if you had created it personally. I don't care much for videos, I prefer studying books. You watch the video over and over and then you perform it exactly as it is done in the video."

That reads to me that Juan is saying books are the best method to "develop your own presentation and style" and not book are the only way to learn magic. There's a world of difference between the two, no?
Tony Tuccillo
Sebastian, Florida

User avatar
Posts: 110
Joined: December 30th, 2010, 2:24 pm
Favorite Magician: J. N. Hofzinser
Location: Barcelona-Spain

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby F.Amílcar » June 8th, 2013, 8:24 am


I'm agree with your understanding of Tamariz philosofy of magic and the way to understand the published interview.
Not only the books but good books of magic can estimulate the inspiration about patter and showmanship for layman.


F. Amilcar Riega i Bello.

Posts: 231
Joined: April 12th, 2008, 8:19 pm

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby magicfish » June 9th, 2013, 2:32 am

Tony, Giobbi is 100% correct.

Eric Anderson
Posts: 14
Joined: July 12th, 2008, 11:33 am
Favorite Magician: Tamariz / Del Ray / Copperfield

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Eric Anderson » June 13th, 2013, 3:10 pm

Juan Tamariz is The Master but far from Perfect especially his ending for his Four Blue Cards effect. One day I hope to ask him why he cleans up the effect the way he does. I'm sure he has a Great Reason and I would love to know what it is. I finally got that off my chest!

Anyway with that being said Tamariz understands that learning from books FORCES you to internalize what is being taught. Of course there are other ways to learn magic but when you learn from books the magic is etched into your soul on a deeper level.

One great benefit from books is misreading something and coming up with another method for what you just read.

I like to believe what Tamariz is really talking about is ALL the GREAT magic hidden away in books, and the only way to learn this magic is by researching, reading, performing & refining what is in those books.

Happy Performing
Eric Anderson

Danny Archer
Posts: 598
Joined: February 29th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Denver

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Danny Archer » July 18th, 2013, 1:50 am

Learning magic from books has many advantages for the student. A book can be easily carried and studied and consulted as needed. The book is always ready when you want to start or quit. The student is totally in control about how fast or how slow the pace of learning should be. A book gives you access to the wisdom and knowledge of teachers who are no longer alive.

Learning magic from books has many disadvantages for the student. Just because something is written in a book, it doesn't mean that it is correct or true. The move or effect may be inferior to other methods that were developed after the book was published, but the book won’t know that. The book can’t look at how you are doing the Pass and offer advice. The author may not have the skill necessary to communicate exactly what they mean. Or possibly the student can misinterpret or not understand what the author is trying to say. You can’t ask a book a question. Well actually you can, you just won’t get an answer.

I think that feedback is what makes learning from a mentor or teacher the superior method. The teacher can demonstrate the move, while the student observes. Then the student does the move and the teacher can provide help and guidance. It is this feedback and give and take that can make the learning process,quicker and more accurate. Question can be asked and answered. Magic is a performing art, it doesn't take place on the printed page but in the real world. Assuming that the teacher or mentor (as well as the student) is motivated and capable, I believe that this method of instruction will far surpass what is possible by learning solely from a book.
Producer of MINDvention
mentalism convention

Edward Pungot
Posts: 634
Joined: May 18th, 2011, 1:55 am

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Edward Pungot » July 18th, 2013, 12:50 pm

"Use your head." -dv

Bob Coyne
Posts: 644
Joined: January 26th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Charlies
Location: New York, NY

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Bob Coyne » July 18th, 2013, 11:25 pm

For sleight of hand, I learn much better and faster from seeing a performance (including video) than from books. Knowing what the effect looks like is the most important thing, since it guides the rest of the learning process by providing an image of the goal. Once I've seen the effect it doesn't matter so much how I learn the rest (figuring it out and fiddling around with methods vs book vs video vs personal instruction). And ultimately practice and performing and experimenting are the best longer-term teachers. It's a continually evolving process.

Jonathan Pendragon
Posts: 394
Joined: July 13th, 2010, 7:33 am

Re: Do you agree with Tamariz?

Postby Jonathan Pendragon » August 20th, 2013, 10:29 pm

Tamariz argues for the freedom of your thoughts to escape the heavy hand of a mentor. Mentor's are great in the beginning, but then you have to think for yourself and access to the variety of ideas found in books allows this. This is also why I prefer books to DVDs. With DVDs you absorb images, not words and images can, of course, have an unwanted influence in a performer's mannerism.

Return to “Close-Up Magic”