Back to (Magic) School

From Dr. Larry Hass, Associate Dean

“Before you can think out of the box, you have to start with a box.”  —Twyla Tharp

For me, September is the month of transitions. It is the month when the nights start to get cooler and the days get shorter. It is the time to roll up my sleeves (vacation is over!) and get started on some fresh new thinking and projects. And above all, it is time to get “back to school”!

Lawrence Hass

“Back to School” is the theme of all our Mystery School Monday shows this month and I hope that you’ll tune in because we will have a lot to say about “hitting the books” with your magic (Mondays, 7:00 p.m. pacific, But here I want to talk about something I won’t discuss during the shows and which I have found to be utterly essential for bearing in on September projects. And that is: “taking good notes,” in other words, the practice of keeping an artist’s notebook.

I don’t know about you, but for me creative insights and breakthroughs come when I least expect them: in the shower, riding on a train, or walking my puppy. Or I come across an exciting trick or a potential method while I am reading a magic book or magazine. Of course I always pledge and promise not to forget, and yet days or weeks later most of them are simply . . . gone. Or the living heart of the idea has evaporated; I can’t remember what gave me the “creative buzz” that seemed so promising.

This is why I always have my artist’s notebook with me. And it is why every serious artist I have ever known, across a full range of art forms, keeps notebooks or journals. It is the primary way we can catch our dreams and, by putting them into words, make them real. Without this, despite all good intentions, our creative insights flutter away and fritter into nothing.

Now, it doesn’t have to be a note-book. As her epigram makes clear, master choreographer Twyla Tharp uses a box to collects props, artifacts, CDs of music, notes written on napkins, and so on. And you certainly could keep your “notebook” on your “tablet” or a computer. But after twenty years of doing this and experimenting, my preference is to use “Mead Composition Books,” available in any drugstore. They are inexpensive, small enough to be portable, and yet large enough to hold lots of notes. And I personally love the muscular, tactile handwork of writing on paper with pen and ink—somehow this embodied ritual makes it all solid and “sticky” for me.

Whatever system you decide to use—composition book, loose pages in a binder (Jeff’s method), or digital files—an artist’s notebook has two essential functions. The first function has already been mentioned: being able to record your good ideas and creative brainstorms whenever and wherever they might occur (after the shower, on the train, in the middle of the night). This is what I call the “dreamcatcher” function.

The second function is retrieval: you must be able to quickly access your past good ideas when you need them today. Indeed, nothing is worse than knowing that you once had a great idea for this somewhere! I call this the “lay-your-hands on-it-now” function.

In my experience, every system is better at one of these functions than the other. So carefully decide which “box” will work best for your overall work-style and devise additional strategies to offset the shortcomings. For example, my composition books are perfect for recording, but to facilitate retrieval I need to create a supplementary index for each one.

Obviously, there is a lot of variability in how artists keep a notebook. But there is no variability about the fact that doing so will help you be a more creative and productive magician. If you have never tried this practice or if you have fallen away from it, this September is a perfect month to “take good notes.” I think you’ll like what it does for you!

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Face Your Fears

“What would you do if you were not afraid?”

Face of Fear

The #1 Killer of Dreams – Fear!

Yes friends…. I work with many people from all over the world. I help many performers overcome stage fright and anxiety. One of the most common things that stops people from living their dreams is fear: fear of failure, rejection and loss.

What if I could wave a magic wand and make your fear go away?

Well the magic wand is you, and all you have to do is follow these steps…. here are a few things to do to banish fear.


One of my favorite quotes about fear is….

“Fear is excitement without the breath!!” –Fritz Perls.

Yes just breathe. We hear it so often it seems almost cliché, but it works!

Just take five deep breaths and your anxiety will ease. Fear cannot live in a relaxed breath.  Next time fear moves into you… breathe it out. Inhale slowly to a count of 8, then exhale to a count of 8. Steady does it!  Here is one of our teachers, Gay Hendricks, with some of his amazing breathing exercises:

Move Your Body

Years ago, in martial arts class, I learned a very simple tool that I share with you….

“If you’re feeling great, meditate.

If you’re feeling down, move around!”

Simply put, when you feel fear, start moving your body. Take a walk, do housework, but get moving!

If you are feeling fine, stop all your running around! Just sit, reflect and be peaceful.

This poem by Nano Saki says it all in a crazy wisdom way…. 

“If you have time to chatter, read books. If you have time to read, walk into mountain, desert and ocean. If you have time to walk,sing songs and dance. If you have time to dance, sit quietly, you happy, lucky idiot.

Focus on Gratitude

When we focus on the good things in our lives, the negative thoughts are pushed to the background.  Count your blessings–not your curses! A great resource on fear:

Historic Syrian Magic Wand

“Life is the dance between your deepest desire and greatest fear.”- A. Robbins

The Wand from Beyond! An Historic Find!

The following article will be of special interest to magicians. Could this be the first magic wand ever used in “broken wand ceremony?”

Keep Calm

& use

a magic wand

Mystery School Student on National TV!

Mat Franco in the America’s Got Talent Semi-finals!

We have had a few talented students from our Magic & Mystery School on America’s Got Talent, including Jason Andrews and Michael Trixx… and now, here we have Mat Franco in the semi-finals!

Mat writes….

Dear Jeff,

What!? Results were announced live last night on America’s Got Talent… I’m in the semifinals!!! Thank you all for your support, comments and votes!! I am so excited to put together something for the next round!

Here is the link to my first performance on AGT.  Hope you enjoy it.  “I am so excited to be a part of the live shows at Radio City Music Hall in the next round where America votes!  If you want to share a link to my contestant profile, here is the link:  If you want to share the video of the latest trick I did on AGT, the link is here:   More more info on Mat go to:

Mat on AGT

We wish Mat much success! If you want to meet more of our star students, take a look at our Winners Circle Page:

Many performers, like Mat, push past their fears and take steps towards a better life.

Mat came to our school many years ago, and after years of dedication to his craft, is building a name in the entertainment industry. When will you take the next step?

For more about McBride’s Magic & Mystery School:

Let us host your Las Vegas vacation! Just drop us an email, and let Abbi and me know when you’re coming to Las Vegas, and what events you want to attend. You can always reach us at 702-450-0021

Wonderground News: The Biggest Magic Party in Las Vegas!

Here’s the lineup for August!  The entire Mystery School faculty will be with us this month! Arrive early to get a great seat. I will personally greet you at the door before the show! It is our pleasure to host your magical evening with us.

Early Stage

  • Jeff McBride
  • Tim Wise
  • Larry Hass
  • Eugene Burger
  • Adam The Professa
  • Shocker and Sinn Bodhi
  • Alexander Straub


  • Christian Diamond
  • Eugene Burger
  • Larry Hass
  • Jeff McBride

Late Stage

  • Adam The Professa
  • Circe
  • Jason Andrews
  • Alexander Straub

All of this PLUS, 

  • Psychic Sideshow: Tarot reading with Alan Scott,
  • The New World Rythmatism Dancers,
  • Live painting & Art by Areeya,
  • Body painting art by Suzanne,
  • Photography by Sheryl Garrett,
  • Video by Steelfyre,
  • DJ David Rosario
  • THE WONDER-BAR Close -up Magic with Zack Patee and MORE!

For more info go to: The Olive Mediterranean RestaurantWWW.VEGASWONDERGROUND.COM

I am home for the month of August working with students here in the School and on Skype. If you want to schedule a session with me, just drop me an email:

See you in Las Vegas or on the road.

Yours in better magic,

Jeff McBride

The Magic of Focus

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.
— Alexander Graham Bell

Dear Friends:

As I write this Jeff and Eugene and most of our faculty are off to host a teen workshop at this year’s combined IBM/SAM national convention in Louisville. I hope many of you reading this will see them there.  Jeff will be leaving the convention early, as he is booked to appear at FantasyCon in Salt Lake City July 3-5. And so it has fallen to me to write you all today.

Tobias Beckwith

Many of you are already aware that I recently released my new book Beyond Deception, Vol. 2: From the Wizard’s Corner. It’s a collection and expansion of my “Wizard’s Corner” segment on our Monday Night Mystery School show ( At this point, the book has been out just under 2 months, and it has been receiving some nice feedback.  But I’m not here to pitch the book.

I’m more interested in talking about focus. That’s what was required to get the book finished and published.  For an hour or two every day for several months, I set aside time just to work on that project. No matter what else happened, I managed to spend at least one hour focusing intently on the book…until it was completed. And that kind of focus is just what you need, too, in order to complete whatever that big project you’ve been dreaming about – whether it’s a new effect, a book of your own, or your own show.

So, I thought I’d share a bit that’s from Beyond Deception, Vol. 2 with you today. As it happens, it’s all about the importance of focus in our work as magicians. I hope you’ll be inspired:

I remember when I first met Eugene Burger over the phone as we were planning the first Mystery School.  I had read one or two of his books, and had begun teaching myself to do magic again, after some 20 years away from it.  I remember telling Eugene, “I’ve got about 20 tricks I can do reasonably well again…of course it’s not like what a real professional could do.”

“Oh?” said Eugene. “I’ve finally got my working repertory down to 15 tricks.  I’ve been thinking of I could get it to just 12, I could be really good!”

That was 20 years ago, and I’ve learned a lot from Eugene and many others since then.  One of the biggest things is that finding one or two things that really inspire you,  and giving them your full focus is a far better strategy for success than trying to pursue a hundred different paths.

As we say in some of our advertising for the Magic & Mystery School:  You probably already have too much magic stuff.  Tricks, gimmicks, etc.  You probably know too many tricks, have too many books and videos – and most of you are still wondering why you haven’t hit the big time in terms of your success.

Why not take just one thing, one short piece, and work on that piece until it is the best version of that piece in the world.  Perhaps it will have a more creative or moving story.  Perhaps it will be more deceptive and magical than anyone else’s presentation of that effect.  Maybe you will just become the best performer of that effect, engaging with your audiences more fully and effectively than anyone else.  But just one such finished, polished, “best in class” piece can make all the difference.

Think for a moment of how it feels to be that person who knows and can perform 100 tricks…all just adequately.  How do friends and audience respond?  How do you feel being barely good enough when performing?  Do you think that is the best way to serve the art form you’ve chosen?

Then think of how it must feel to know you have just performed one thing better than anyone else in the world has ever done.  How will you stand, talk, sleep at night, knowing you are the absolute BEST at that one thing?

There’s only one way to reach that state…and it is through intense, laser-like focus on one thing.

End of excerpt. If you want to read more:

It’s that time of year: Magic Festival and Convention time! Jeff has just returned from Spain, where his performances received standing ovations at the 33rd Congreso Mágico Nacional in Cáceres. He also spent time hosted by Angel Vicente, exploring the very rich magic scene in Madrid.

Jeff McBride in Spain

Later this month, Jeff will be visiting a different kind of magic festival: first, the Starwood Festival in Ohio, and then Illumination, in Ohio. If you’re amongst the fire circle festival crowd, you’ll already know about these — and if you’re not, but are interested, I’ll just suggest you Google them.

In between festivals, Jeff will be taking his full evening show to The Orleans in a rare Las Vegas booking that’s open to the general public. The booking is sponsored by the Hypnothoughts Live Conference, organized by our friend, Richard Clark. If you live in Vegas, or will be visiting in mid-July, this is your chance to catch Jeff’s full show on a major casino showroom stage. Not to be missed! Click here to buy tickets now. (

As part of the Hypnothoughts Conference, Jeff will also be lecturing, and offering a special one-day workshop on Magic & Mentalism for Hypnotists, co-taught by Richard Nongard. Learn more and get registered here:

OK… that’s it for now. Now, go and focus on whatever YOU need to do to help you lift your magic to the next level. I’m off to rehearse one of the pieces from my “The Wizard’s Way” talk myself. Jeff will be back for the mid-July Muse.

Till then, enjoy a fantastic and festive summer!

Magically yours,
Tobias Beckwith

The Million Dollar Question?

“I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.
— Pablo Picasso

Dear Friends:

One of the rather crass questions magicians are asked most often is:

“If you were a real magician, couldn’t you just pull money from the air?” or, “Can you make a million dollars appear for me?”

Actually money does not always “work like magic,” and solve all of life’s problems.  In fact, money can actually cause the problems! Have you read the stories of lottery winners that have had their lives totally ruined by getting “all the money they ever dreamed of?”

Joshua Levin is one of the most talented artists I know.  He is a PhD in Anthropology teaching here at The College of Southern Nevada. He is a master musician, painter, poet and a family man. Here is one of his recent paintings, exploring his relationship to the world of money. Here Joshua explores the difference between spiritual gold and that mundane matter that we kill and die for.

Take a few moments to look deeply into the symbolism of this painting.

Joshua’s art will astonish you!

It is my pleasure to introduce many of you to Joshua’s work… for more of his art go here:

Joshua has an amazing ability to “spark” other people’s creativity. He empowers them to find the art inside of them and to coax it out into the world. I love that about him! He is a modern master of art and expression.

If you desire, you can take the course Art In-Cross Cultural Perspective with Joshua online!

Is what you are doing for money, what you love to do for the rest of your life?

“Right livelihood” is the concept of doing what you love to do, in a way that does not harm others. Sometimes it takes courage and persistence to get the “right livelihood” part of the the financial equation right.  Read these amazing stories, they will inspire you to be patient and to follow your bliss.

It is not how much you have, but how little you need… that is the key to financial success!

When I see a Lamborghini I don’t think,”Wow! How much money does that person have?” I think, “Wow! how much money does he owe?”
Freedom from financial worry is what I’m after.

Instead of asking “How can I make more money from my art?” Try asking, “How can I make more art with my money?”

Caduceus Installation
Here is a photo of Joshua’s sculptural-painting Arum. This is an inspirational art piece I commissioned from him to adorn our movement theater wing of the Magic & Mystery School.

You can visit our museum and art gallery when you attend our classes. For a detailed look of Joshua’s art go here

One of the ways I’m working on “right livelihood” is by making house calls!

House calls? Yes! The Show Doctor is making house calls! Each week magicians from all over world tune into our online school. This month our shows are about Wisdom from Wizards.

Get your free trial here:

Are you living your dream?

Or… Have you ever had the desire to just “get away” from the “real world?” Ever consider leaving your present life and starting new again? Some people get stuck in the same old patterns, while others break out of the pack, spread their wings and FLY! Now you can start a new life… just step out onto the street and begin again!

Street Magic – Las Vegas!

Live the drea m- Perform the magic you love, and make a great living doing it! Become a street magician and see the world! We can show you how…

We even help our students by offering scholarships! What more can we do to help — drive to your home and pick you up?!

Wonderground Rocks Las Vegas

It has been 5 years since Chris Randall has appeared at the Wonderground. Chris is one of the original Wonderground Players… and now he comes home. Chris Randall returns with his full evening show Scandal — The Only Adult Magic Show in Las Vegas.

The 10:00 PM show features world class manipulation, edgy comedy, and sizzling hot illusions. Scandal features an amazing cast starring Melanie Kramer, Bizzarro and Award Winning Magician Mondre. Do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime show at this month’s Wonderground.

Also appearing: Gypsy music by Jon D’Ark

8PM Early Stage:
Your Host, the elegant Tim Wise
Scott Steelfyre – A Fantasy in Flames
Smoothini- The Ghetto Houdini! – Direct from America’s Got Talent!

9PM Diamond Parlor Room:
Your host- the charming Kurt Freitag
Joe Atmore – Master of Mentalism & Mystery

Art by Areeya and Suzanne, Tarot readings and Psychic Sideshow with Alan Scott, Video by Scott Steelfyre, Photography by Sheryl Garrett ,DJ David Rosario, The New World Rythmatism Dancers and more!

On Tour in Spain!

Yes, I’m packing again, this time for a tour of Spain. I’m taking BEYOND DECEPTION Volume 2, as reading material. Tobias did a fantastic job on this book. “BD2″ is packed with a lifetime of wisdom and magical inspiration. I suggest you read a sample and then get your copy here:

I love to perform for Spanish audiences. And the Spanish magicians — especially the close-up artists — are some of the best in the world. If you are in Spain join me here:

So as they say on Star Trek, “Live long and prosper!”

Jeff McBride

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