Mirror Play for Breath Work

By Pam Marshalla

Mirror Tongue Play

Q: I have discovered that a mirror helps my young clients understand the idea of breath support for speech. Kids notice that their breath makes a fog on a mirror. I teach them to make longer and longer exhalations to make more and more fog and then they draw smiley faces in the fog on the mirror. Fun! Can you comment?

My reading of historic artic books has revealed to me that we all end up developing the same methods given enough time in therapy.

Using mirrors like this is a traditional method for working on breath and resonance that has been in play since the time of the elocutionists of ancient Greece and Rome.  Van Riper and most early 20th century authors wrote about it.

The breath stream on a mirror has been called a fog, a cloud, mist, and a fug.

I will include all of these old ideas in my next book–– The Marshalla Guide.  It will be in the chapter on resonance training and in the chapter on breath support.  Here is a section from the chapter on resonance–– 

Mirrors and metal spoons:  Therapists use mirrors and spoons in the process of resonance training.  Place a small hand-held mirror or a metal spoon under the client’s nose to observe the clouding that occurs with nasal exhalation–– “Nasality can be easily detected through the appearance of moisture on the mirror” (Nemoy and Davis, 1937, p. 139).  Show the smudge to the client and explain that it means air is coming out his nose.  Mirrors and spoons are used during an initial diagnostic session and/or as a direct therapy procedure.  This training often begins with vowels–– “If the mirror clouds, repeat the vowel until there is no evidence of nasal emission of the breath stream” (Berry and Eisenson, 1956, p. 141).


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