A Fundamental Mistake

From Lawrence Hass, Ph.D., the Associate Dean:


A Fundamental Mistake

In a recent Museletter I peeled back the veil to share “A Fundamental Secret” about performing. In brief, my secret was a mantra I had learned from over twenty years of performing in the real world: “The fundamental business of every magic show is relationship-building.”  (1)

I am deeply gratified by the positive response this essay received from readers all over. And it has emboldened me to extend my reflections this month by sharing what I have come to see as a fundamental error in magic. I believe this mistake, this error, is so widespread and with such negative consequences, that if magicians everywhere would resolve themselves to avoid it, the general reputation of magic would rise a hundred-fold. Here is the principle that’s so easy to forget:

Perform from the center of your skill set, not the edges.

Indeed, as I watch magic–by professionals and amateurs alike–I see this problem over and over: performers attempting something that is simply too hard for them. Their hands shake, techniques flash, eyes turned inward, tension in the hands and body, too much thinking, the words feel rote. And the experience of magic leaks out of the tank.

How does this happen? Why does it happen so much? I believe a big part of it is a myth that runs pretty deep in our magic subculture—the notion that a trick gets better and more praiseworthy the harder it is. And along comes the notion that magicians are measured by their technical skill level. (“My sleight is bigger than yours!”) Never mind that their “Pass” flashes, that their fingers flutter when they do the “Cull”, that anyone with eyes can tell two cards are being turned over as one, that everyone knows something happened right there.

May I say the emperor has no clothes? May I offer the following suggestion to unsettle this “myth of technique”? I would say that the measure of a trick is how invisible the secret is, and the measure of magicians is whether they astonish and delight their audiences with the things they perform.

Of course sleight-of-hand is part of the game. While it is true there is excellent magic that is sleight-free (for example, BEKOS, B’Wave and many things created by the amazing Wayne Dobson), sleight-of-hand is such an important part of our tool kit that it behooves those of us who are “temporarily abled” to spend a good deal of time in that playground. But again, in my view, here is how that time should go: “Practice at the edges of your skill set, but only perform from its center.” Never fear: with time, loving attention, and regular practice those difficult skills at the edges will find their way into the center, and your range will expand. But there is no reason to sit by the sidelines while you wait. As Eugene Burger constantly reminds our students: “There is excellent magic at every skill level.”

Do you feel what a difference committing to the center would make to your confidence? Do you see how leaving the too-hard stuff at home (for now) will empower your performance and your ability to build audience relationship? What pieces are you attempting in public that aren’t really, honestly in the dead center of your skill set?

I promise you: everything about magic performance gets better and more fun—for our audiences, too—when we perform from the core of our confidence, rather than at the shaky, uncertain, self-absorbed edge of disaster.


(1) “A Fundamental Secret” first appeared in the February 2015 Museletter. A revised version was published in my Inspirations: Performing Magic with Excellence (Theory and Art of Magic Press, 2015), pages 161-163.

Do What You Love

“Do what you love; you’ll be better at it. It sounds pretty simple, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t get this one right away.”

LL Cool J

Mat Franco is a perfect example of a man who loves sharing magic. Mat is the winner of America’s Got Talent. He shared his wisdom with our students at the most recent Master Class. Mat spoke about the importance of LOVING his work and his ability to work “under any conditions.” Mat told many stories of how he pulled off shows under impossibly bad conditions. All of these “shows from hell” gave him the resilience to handle venues and audiences anywhere! He even pulled off a recent Las Vegas show after the computer system locked down… he went on with the show– with no lights, sound or tech, and killed it! The audience LOVED it!

photo credit : Sheryl Ann Garrett – Photographer of Magicians

“Attending Mystery School was the coolest thing I ever did!”

-Mat Franco- Winner of America’s Got Talent

Thank you Mat, for sharing your love of magic with our class!

Mat is the star of his very own Las Vegas show, MAGIC RE-INVENTED NIGHTLY at the LINQ Hotel on the Strip. Go see his excellent show!  www.matfranco.com

Are you thriving or starving?

Did you know that Mystery School has given out over $40,000.00 in the past few years to magic students in need? We offer financial help to those in need of a good magic education. Read about our scholarship programs–we hope to help YOU. http://www.magicalwisdom.com/scholarships

Do what you LOVE! Even if it is not the best, it will get better! A MUST SEE VIDEO

When you are attempting to make new work, sometimes the vision does not match the results.

Many students get discouraged… but fear not! Ira Glass explains WHY we need to be patient with ourselves.


Last month’s Muse-letter stirred many to share their “Favorite Excuse.”

If your excuse is, “I’m too old to get into this magic business,” you must watch this 80 year old performer and listen to his story!  Watch this video and you can see why “80 is the new sexy!”

Perhaps Eugene will start modeling? Hey, it could happen!

Escaping the Ordinary: This girl LOVES danger!

“This girl scares even me; she braves challenges even I wouldn’t dare to do.”

-Dixie Dooley

Las Vegas’ FIRST and ONLY True Escape Show

Starring the protégé and successor to Master Mystifier Dixie Dooley, Escape Artist Randilyn is Las Vegas’ youngest performer and newest star. Performing some of Houdini’s classics, as well as a few new surprises — and utilizing some of the Master’s best-kept secret techniques — “Liberations” is an interactive show that combines fun, suspense, and hardcore skills.

The show is rumored to be so dangerous that its producer has only allowed performances to take place once per week: Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. in the Majestik Theater at the Royal Resort Hotel and Casino. 702-633-6278

“Randilyn is an eloquent and skilled performer who treats audiences to exciting and clever feats beyond the ordinary.”

— Anastasia Synn & Amazing Johnathan

“Randilyn is more than an  accomplished Escapologist… She reminds us that we can all escape  our limitations.”

— Jeff McBride

Your invitation to the BIGGEST magic party in Las Vegas.

WONDERGROUND- Thursday September 15th 


photo credit : Sheryl Ann Garrett – Photographer of Magicians

Last month we BROKE HOUSE RECORDS for attendance! Yet we still had room for everyone to sit, mix and mingle! THIS month we are at it again! New lights, sounds and new acts!

 7:30 pm Strolling magic with August Meyer, Juan Pablo and Miguel, Scott Brown as Allen Scott will do tarot readings in the “art area” before and after the CLOSE UP 9 pm shows

Ian Galloway – A Magical Fantasy with Feathers!

Tim Shegitz – Twisted Comedy Magic

Gary Norsigian – The Las Vegas Magic Man

Jeff McBride – Something so old it is new!

Kris Benz – Mystery in Motion

Chris Randall – The Las Vegas Kid

 9:00 pm Christian Doleshall is your host

Strolling magic with our experts

Gary Norsigian

Kris Bentz

Chris Randall

August Meyer

10:00 pm Jeff McBride is your Host

Luna Shimada – Lady of the Mystic Arts

Ian Galloway – Light Magic

Dixie Dooley presents – Randilyn the next Generation for Liberation

Chris Randall – Competition act

Circe – Mistress of Illusion

Plus! Cabernet Dance Company!! Sue Name Sake, Nikki Girl, and Mylissa, with Natalie showing her amazing Dance on Goblets! Bar Magic: Zack Pattee, Scott Steelfyre, Iam Creed, Corey Rubino, Adriel Jacobs, Randilyn, Psychic Sideshow with Mulee Pete, Alan Scott, live art with Areeya and many more surprises and special celebrity guests!!


Did you know that I have gone where NO magician had gone before!

A few rare photos for all of you STAR TREK fans who are celebrating 50 years of the show.

Meet my character Joran Belar from STAR TREK DS9 a few years back. This episode was written especially for me and my mask work! How cool is THAT?!

Watch the trailer:


Many people are updating their profile photo with STAR TREK frames. Time travel does make me look a bit younger–it does that to a man! How many of you saw this episode?

See you in Vegas, on tour or online!


From Tobias:

Wow… that’s a lot of material! Let me just chime in to let you know we still have a couple of spots available in our “Money is the Best Applause” sessions Oct. 14-16. There will be pre-class & post-class work to do in connection with this class, as there is just too much material to get through in the three days we’re together. During that time, we’ll have a shoot with famed photographer Richard Faverty, a showing of up to 5 minutes of your best material for commentary by Jeff McBride on making it more commercially viable, tons of work on how to define your market and your product, then how to make the best use of that work to get the word out and get yourself booked solid!

As many of you know, I’ve advised Jeff McBride & Marco Tempest for nearly 30 years, and booked many millions of dollars in gigs for them during that time. This is a “no holds barred” weekend, where students are encouraged to ask anything, and get any kind of help that Jeff and I have to offer. I hope to see you there!  http://www.magicalwisdom.com/events#516

Till next month, then!

Best to all.

Tobias Beckwith


September 2016 – Magic & Mystery School Events

12 Teaching Magic – Larry Hass Hosts
19 Teaching Magic – Bill Cook Hosts
26 Teaching Magic – Eugene Burger Hosts
September 2016 – Jeff McBride Calendar
16 Wonderground
19-30 *Cruising – Holland America – Alaska to Hawaii

Will, Love & Imagination

Have you signed up for our grand celebration event, at Magic & Meaning 2016? It’s the 25th Anniversary of the Magic & Mystery School, and It only comes once. If you’re not signed up yet, now’s the time. Spots are nearly gone, so click here to sign up now!

“Magic is no more than the art of employing consciously invisible means to produce visible effects. Will, love, and imagination are magic powers that everyone possesses; and whoever knows how to develop them to their fullest extent is a magician. Magic has but one dogma, namely, that the seen is the measure of the unseen.”

                  — W. Somerset Maugham

Let’s break it down.

“Magic is no more than the art…”

Art is the “application of human creative skill and imagination…”

The creative skill part is what we practice, over and over, on a regular basis, so that the difficult appears easy, so that muscle memory takes over, and we don’t have to worry about thinking killing our magic.  The imagination part is all connected to what makes our magic unique.  It’s not just another dollar bill in an impossible location, but there is something unique about it, something that we have dreamed up that makes it unlike anything ever seen before.

Visible Invisible

“consciously invisible means to produce visible effects.”

I think this is all about making choices, conscious choices that are planned, prepared and practiced in order to create something that is seen by someone else, who has no knowledge of the planning, preparation and practice that has gone in. The participant is able to receive the gift of momentary astonishment because of the time and effort the magician has put in.

“Will, love, and imagination are magic powers that everyone possesses…”

Ah, three of my favorite things.  Will is all about the power of choice; it’s no accident that the prime words of the Magician in the tarot are “I Will.”  Love is the true expression of the heart, whether it is toward another living being, an experience, or a thing. Imagination,  “the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images, or concepts of external objects, not present to the senses.”  To me, imagination is real magic.  We all have all three of these at our disposal.

“whoever knows how to develop them…”

How to Develop the Will

Many years ago, I learned of a method to develop the Will, which, according to the magician I learned it from, was created by Alice Bailey. You go into your bedroom.  You stand on a chair for ten minutes.  You do this every single day for a month. You tell no one you’re doing it.  Simple—but not easy.

How to Develop Love

To me, this is both about love for self, and love for others.  Here’s what you do.  Put your right hand palm over your heart.  Place your left hand directly over your right hand.  Breathe, slowly and deeply.  Bring to mind someone, someplace, something you really, really love.  Breathe in and think of that person.  Breathe out and imagine sending that love through your hands, into your own heart.  Breathe in, see them, and in your mind say “I love you.”  Breathe out and send that love to your heart.  Loving your own dear heart is the way to love all else.

How to Develop Imagination

Start here:  Shakti Gawain’s book, Creative Visualization.

Once you’ve read it, email me, and let me know what you think, and how what you think, is changing.  =)

“…to their fullest extent is a magician.”

If you engage in these practices, and truly develop these three: will, love and and imagination, then you really can manifest change, according to your Will, in the world around you.  You really can awaken consciousness in others (and isn’t that really what the Magician archetype is all about?).

“Magic has but one dogma…”

Dogma: a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.

We, magicians, who by our nature make the art of deception our craft and trade, all hold this truth.  Look, we all agree.  Regardless of political viewpoint, or thoughts on climate change, or any number of other topics that could divide us, we come together to agree that:

“the seen is the measure of the unseen.”

And there is so much that is unseen.  Not just the hours of practice and preparation, but the Great Mystery itself.  That which can only be hinted at in words, and in glimpses through the telescope.  Magic connects us with the mysterious, the unseen, the potential of creativity.

Mmmm.  I love that quote.

With love from your Sister of Mystery,



What is Your Big Excuse?

Excuses: Are They “Good” or are they “Bad?”

We all make excuses. I remember in elementary school, making up excuses to get me off the hook for not doing my homework. Magic was usually the reason that I did not do my homework. I was too immersed in my passion to toil over meaningless book reports…. My grades may have suffered, but my magic got better!

Magic was a GREAT excuse!

“The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right. Which one are you?”

Henry Ford

What is your excuse?

I hear the following “cop-outs” almost on a daily basis.  Which one do YOU use the most?

  • I can’t do magic because–My hands are too small.
  • I can’t do magic because–I don’t have the time to practice.
  • I can’t do magic because–I started too late in life.
  • I can’t do magic because–I don’t have the skill.
  • I can’t do magic because–I don’t have the patience.
  • I can’t attend Mystery School–I don’t have the money.
  • I can’t come to a magic class–My job is in the way.
  • I can’t watch  Night Mystery School–I can’t stay up late.
  • I can’t read all those magic books–I learn better from video.

No Excuses!

Mahdi Gilbert amazed the world with his passion for magic. He COULD have come up with MANY excuses for NOT following his passion.

Thank you Penn & Teller for hosting this man on your show FOOL US. Now the magic world has a new hero! Just look at this amazing man doing what he loves. Mahdi inspires all of us to move beyond our limitations.

Are there “Good” Excuses?”


  • Following your bliss is a GREAT excuse for making more time for your magic.
  • Focusing on your passion just might make you take time off from your day job.
  • Focusing on your magic is a GREAT excuse for watching less TV!
  • Taking a magic class in Vegas is a GREAT excuse for taking a ‘work-study vacation!”

Hard questions, easy answers!

Do you get people asking these questions?

“What do you REALLY want from your life?”

“Are you happy with your life?”

“Are you doing what you REALLY want to do in life?”

“What is next for you?”

Wow! I had to sit down to think and write about this for a while. I made a list of what I feel are the most important things in my life. First, I have a wonderful relationship with my wife Abigail. That is the most important part of my life and what I focus on the most. We run a Las Vegas magic show. Our magic school and lovely home are open to friends and students. We have many dear friends and we are in good health… we are very blessed. So what do we focus on NOW?  Now it is time for us to help others live THEIR life’s dream! I am grateful for the great team we have here at the school. We are all here to help and serve YOU!

Scholarships to Empower Your Magic Dream!

Larry Hass helped us develop our scholarship program to help those of you with the passion, but who need some financial help to take advantage of one of our classes. We don’t want that to be an excuse that prevents you from following your magic dream.

Take a look and see how we can help you!  http://virtual.magicalwisdom.com/members/signup

A hint: watch this to the end. It really rocks!

Life Lessons from the Masters

The following 2 great artists never let their challenges get in the way of their passion and vision! Matthew Buchinger was born in Germany without hands or lower legs. He was 29 inches tall. In the 1700’s he became a world famous magician and artist! He toured Europe to entertain kings and aristocrats with amazing feats of physical dexterity, and was known as the “Little Man from Nuremberg.”  Buchinger was married 4 times and had at least 14 children (by eight women). He also is rumored to have had children by as many as 70 mistresses… Go Matthew!

DID HE MAKE EXCUSES? No he was too busy living his dream!

Despite his having small, finlike appendages for hands, his art engravings were incredibly detailed. Despite his handicap, Buchinger was an accomplished magician, causing balls to disappear from under cups, and birds to appear from nowhere. He was reported to be unbeatable at cards and would dazzle audiences with his amazing displays of magic.

The Maestro of Magic

René Lavand was a magician from Argentina. René lost a hand in a car crash at age 9, and taught himself how to perform exquisite sleight-of-hand magic, utilizing only one arm. I had the great pleasure of sharing time and magic with Mr Lavand. He inspires all of us to move beyond our limitations, and towards mastery.

Historic Passion for Life!

25 years ago I was performing in Barcelona at the Olympic Arts Festival, when the following incident took place. This amazing story touched the hearts of millions. Derek Redmond has a magical story to tell you. He will be remembered for his unstoppable passion for running.

Be inspired by this great story.


I hope you enjoyed this month’s McBride Muse Letter. It is a joy to explore these topics with you. We get great pleasure out of sharing our inspiration and magic with you. Please let us know when you come out to Las Vegas. Abigail and I will roll out the red carpet for you!

Yours in  the magic of life,

Jeff and Abigail

p.s. we are having a party…

Your Invitation to Mystery: The Biggest Magic Party in Las Vegas—WONDERGROUND!

photo credit : Sheryl Ann Garrett – Photographer of Magicians

Wonderground News—Meet the Magic Live Mystery Guests!

Thursday August 18th is the next WONDERGROUND. Get to the Olive early to get a good seat! www.vegaswonderground.com

7:30 PM – Christian Diamond is your host

Strolling Magic with Miguel and Juan Pablo

Allen Scott & Mulee Pete offer Tarot Readings


8:00 PM – Jeff McBride MC

Joe Givan and Carol Massie – DreamMasterz

Jhony the Joker! – Magic with Mystery

Kevin Hall — Towers of Teller

Bill Cook – Magic in a Bottle!

Nathan Phan – From TV’s Wizard Wars

BIZZARO – Master of Demented Delusion


9:00 PM – Christian Diamond MC

Nathan Phan – A Man with Magical Plans for his Fans

Bizzaro – For him “Normal is just a setting on the dryer!”

Jeff McBride – Always a wonder to remember!

Tim Wise & Zach at the WONDERBAR


10:00 – Jeff McBride MC

Bill Cook – “The Competition Act!”

Michael Trixx – ABRA-cadab-ROCK!

Natalie and Eli – Quick Change Artistry

Nathan Phan – Magic, Music, and Mayhem

Ryan Stock and Amber Lynn – Rising Stars of the Bizarre!


PLUS: Bar Magic: Zack Pattee, Scott Steelfyre, Iam Creed, The NWR-Tribal Belly Dance Troupe, Mystic Sideshow with Mulee Pete, Alan Scott, live art with Areeya and many more surprises and special celebrity guests!!

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