Over 200 tutoring hours

Dennis M.

Lake Forest, IL


Professor of Speech, Voice, Acting, Musical Theater and Opera

In-person lessons
Background check passed as of 4/14/12
4.9 average from 96 ratings
Great Teacher
— Jackie, Wheeling, IL on 11/1/12

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University of Illinois, Chicago
Communication Theate
1977, B.A.
DePaul University, Chicago


University of Illinois, Chicago (Communication Theate)

1977, B.A. (Master's)

DePaul University, Chicago (Master's)

About Dennis

Speak Like a Pro! For business, performing arts or everyday conversation I can help you gain confidence and have that polished professional flair. I can help you reduce your accent, or learn a foreign accent or regional dialect. I can help you improve your skills in English and Grammar/ESOL, Public Speaking, Acting, Singing and just about any type of communication process.

I've taught Speech and Theater for over 30 years at High School, College, Conservatory, and even Summer Camp classes! Students from 16 to 86 have benefited from my training and have enjoyed working with me. I'm friendly and funny but I take work very seriously. I love to teach and to have students enjoy what we do together. I am a college professor and also a professional director and designer and have worked in theaters ranging in size from a small storefront theater to the Auditorium Theater in the Loop. I specialize in musical theater and voice production, working from the most basic level to the most advanced. I've also worked in theater, opera, stage, film and television commercials.

If you need help preparing an audition or delivering an important business presentation I'm the tutor for you! If you'd like to lose an accent or to develop one for a stage role I can help you. I can help you with stage fright, communication apprehension, and to improve your breath control and relaxation techniques. I can help you with your resume or your school work - professional or student - age and level of experience does not matter.
Speak Like a Pro! For business, performing arts or everyday conversation I can help you gain confidence and have that polished professional flair. I can help you reduce your accent, or learn a foreign accent or regional dialect. I can help you improve your skills in Read more

8 hours notice required
Travel Radius
Travels within 35 miles of Lake Forest, IL 60045
Background Check: Passed
In-person lessons

"Great Teacher"

- Jackie, Wheeling, IL on 11/1/12

"Great Public Speaking Tutor"

- Felipe, Lombard, IL on 1/9/13

"The best"

- Ravi, Glenview, IL on 12/1/12

"Superb tutor"

- Ada, Lake Forest, IL on 11/12/12

"Persistent and clever tutor"

- Tony, Naperville, IL on 9/28/12
Test Preparation:
SAT Reading,
SAT Writing,
Special Needs:
Elementary Education:
Public Speaking

Approved subjects are in bold.

Approved subjects

In most cases, tutors gain approval in a subject by passing a proficiency exam. For some subject areas, like music and art, tutors submit written requests to demonstrate their proficiency to potential students. If a tutor is interested but not yet approved in a subject, the subject will appear in non-bold font. Tutors need to be approved in a subject prior to beginning lessons.


My expertise in this area is in Drafting and History. I have taught drafting at both the high school and college level for 35 years. I also teach the history of architecture as part of my work as a stage designer. As a professional set designer I have designed every kind of structure from rural shacks to grand palaces from America to Asia to Europe in plays, operas and musicals, so a thorough knowledge of the styles and history of world architecture has been a requisite part of my career for decades. I can easily focus on a specific time-period or group of architects in a limited focus tutorial or I can cover a wide range of styles in a large survey type course.

While I prefer pencil drafting I can also teach some CAD drafting depending on the specific software required. Either way, I prefer to begin with traditional pencil drafting to teach the basic skills that can later be translated to digital systems.

Art History

As a teacher of theater design and the history of design I couple traditional art history with theater practices. Since there is little or no information available on early scenic design and because fine artists often created scenic design the two practices go hand-in-hand. Scenic art as a discipline only came into existence in the middle part of the 20th century. My basic field of study has always been art and I began my studies at the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1970s.

Art history teaches up about the society and culture of each region and each time-period studied. As a practicing artist it is my business to know art history and to use it as a springboard to inspire and inform my own work. From the earliest cave drawings to the most abstract splatters and performance works every art work can be studied to reveal insights into the mind of the artist as well as the time in which s/he lived.

I teach a complete survey of western arts as well as Asian and African arts. I can also tutor students in the work of an individual artist or a school of artists such as the impressionists, the cubists, etc. I am happy to tailor a course of study to your specific needs or interests.


Teaching English has become part of every class I teach because good communication skills are dependent upon using language as a tool.

That's the approach I use whether I am teaching basic English skills to a middle schooler, important review work in writing or literature for high school and college students, or for adults who are adding a language or seeking to improve their native language skills to be more effective in speaking and writing.

I tailor each lesson to the needs of the student. We can use great works of literature to study English or we can use the daily newspaper. I specialize in improving conversation skills and increasing vocabulary. I also teach public speaking at the college level and this is where I have developed my skills to teach writing to be persuasive, informative, and entertaining.

Structure is important for all writing so I also use outlines in my teaching to help students focus their ideas and to present them in the best way possible. Here again language is a tool to help you communicate in a clear, precise and meaningful manner.

Whether you are 8 or 80 English can be fun, creative, and exciting to use as a tool to communicate your thoughts and ideas in conversation, business, professional work, or in every day activities. We learn best when the experience is meaningful and enjoyable and that's exactly what I try to do in every lesson.


Advanced ESOL for students who already have a good knowledge and comprehension of the English language and are ready to bring their language skills to the next level. If you wish to reduce a foreign accent, gain a better vocabulary, understand technical or idiomatic expressions or just become more easily understood in everyday conversations, I can help you.

As a college teacher of communication and theater for over 20 years my expertise in voice and language is especially relevant for developing or reducing foreign accents and regional dialects.

Using the International Phonetic Alphabet I teach non-native speakers as well as native English speakers to speak "correctly" or "without regionalisms and accents". My students have gone on to careers in television and radio broadcasting, films and the performing arts. I have been successful improving the English language skills of many students from Asia, including China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Thailand, as well as students from Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and even from Canada. All have learned how to sound like a native US speaker.

Basic vocabulary building, reading, and writing, is coupled with extensive speaking exercises in both a conversational setting and in a professional setting. I teach English for interviewing, for public speaking, and in group communication settings. These skills can be used to make you more effective in business, sales, telemarketing, medical consultation, customer service or in your personal communication with these and other types of professionals.

Any types of specific, high-level language improvement skills can be studied based on the needs and goals of the individual. You will sound more professional and more confident.

I work with adults and young adults and in some cases younger students who have had educational experience in English at the high school level.


I am a communication and theater scholar. It's important for my students to know that I am certified in English grammar. While grammar is not the primary subject I teach, students who study, ESL/ESOL, English, Public Speaking, and Theater with me can have the confidence to know that the changes I request and the corrections I give them are coming from a solid knowledge base.

I'm certain there are other scholars who know more about grammar than I do but what I can guarantee is that my work will be solid, practical, useful, clear, easy to understand, and helpful.

I approach grammar from the practical perspective and not a pedantic perspective. It's all about clear and concise communication. Using language to inform, persuade, and entertain are my chief goals.

Music History

I have studied music since childhood and my masters thesis included the composition of an opera. I have staged opera and musical theater works as well as revues and cabaret acts. All the genres of music have interest for me but I compose in a modern abstract classical style.

I have also arranged vocal and instrumental music for stage performers ranging form soloists to large a cappella groups.

I teach the history of musical theater which includes much of the history of world music including every kind of music that is sung.

As a composer I have written songs, ranging from country to pop and show tunes, I have written song cycles to the poetry of Robert Burns and Walt Whitman, I have written choral and instrumental music for the stage and concert hall.

Music Theory

To understand the theories of music one must grasp simple mathematics and some concepts of structure. Through creative study of historical works and original projects the student learns how to both understand music that one hears and how to successfully create one's own works. The cornerstones of notation, counterpoint and harmony serve as the guideposts trough an almost never-ending study of musical works or great significance or works that just bring simple enjoyment.

Once the concepts and theories are mastered one can go on to enjoy, play, sing, or write any music whether it be old, new, or original.

Progress is individualized and each student discovers their own path or method to analyze and create beautiful music. Tutoring will suit the specific needs of each student beginning where the student chooses and progresses towards the student's specific goals. Studying any or all styles, types, or traditions of music is encouraged.


My work as a communication professor has ranged from teaching reading and phonics to middle school students to teaching the International Phonetic alphabet to college students.

The English language is one of the most difficult to learn due to the influence and incorporation of words from many other languages. The spelling and pronunciation of English varies greatly due to these foreign influences. In my tutorials we work step by step through each phoneme to increase reading comprehension and speaking clarity.

I have also used phonetic work teaching singers better articulation in their performances in popular and classical music.

Skills range form simple phonics games for youngsters to advanced study for adults.


I can proofread your manuscript for grammar, syntax, clarity, character development, logic, argument, structure, vocabulary, humor, irony, persuasiveness, or any other purpose and present options for possible revisions.

Whether a creative writing project, a sales or business document, a class assignment, or a church bulletin, my years as a teacher, and my experience in the advertising and publishing industries can help you improve your writing.

Public Speaking

I have studied communication from my undergraduate days and have a degree in Communication Science. I have taught classes at the high school and college level in Public Speaking, Voice and Diction, History of Communication, Rhetoric, Interpersonal Communication, Group Communication and Problem Solving.

My specialty is coaching speakers in their presentations for clarity and effectiveness. I coach commencement speakers, radio and television announcers, religious and motivational speakers, and teachers.

I have helped students improve their articulation to reduce a foreign accent or regional dialects. I have helped actors learn to reproduce an accent or dialect for the stage.

I can also help organize your thoughts in the writing and preparation of a speech for a classroom or professional presentation.


Reading is the core of almost all learning. I have been an avid reader from a very early age and still enjoy all types of reading, whether for pleasure, business or to learn.

My goal is to pass on the joy of reading to others by making it become easy and effortless, which of course takes time and effort to master.

As a teacher and college professor for more than 20 years, I have worked to enable adults and children including friends, students, and family members.

After assessing the student's current level of skill I use a progressive approach, gradually increasing the level of reading difficulty. Evaluation can be processed orally, through discussion, or through written examination, and most often by both methods.

I specialize in working with adult students and students new to American English. I use daily newspapers and magazines such as TIME and PEOPLE for most reading assignments and, when appropriate, add works of literature, poetry and drama, science, or business, according to the interests and needs of the student.

I want to make reading a pleasure for everyone and to empower my students to deal more directly with their social and business interactions.

SAT Reading

I have been an avid reader since my earliest memories. I cannot remember a day when I did not have a book in my hands even if for only a brief moment. I have always loved books and libraries and research so it was not a surprise when I became a teacher.

When my, then middle-school aged, niece was having difficulties at school I was able to discern her problem was reading. She did not like to read and was fearful of school work because, although bright, she had a reading problem and did not want to look stupid so she instead chose to simply "give-up." We spent the summer working on phonics and simple reading lessons and soon she was reading above her grade-level. Taking away the fear and feeling of failure is essential whether reading as a middle schooler or as a college student or as a professional adult.

I want to make reading a fun and stress-free process for all my students. I want to enable them to feel confident and to know that they can find the answer to any question or problem by doing something they enjoy—reading!

SAT Writing

Being a college professor for more than 20 years I have often found students unprepared for the rigorous writing demands of most college courses. Even teaching adult students I have found writing to be biggest fear and greatest handicap for even excellent, dedicated students. I want to make writing a joyful experience for students young and old. I want to eliminate the fear behind writing phobias. I want to empower students of all ages to to feel confident in their ability to communicate effectively and powerfully through their writing.

I teach some aspect of writing in every course I offer. Whether it be creative, poetic, informational, factual, fictional, dramatic, or simplistic I always return to the two primary questions of "What are you trying to say?" and "How do you want to say it?" From there we can create language of beauty and clarity that achieves the student's goal.

I enjoy teaching students of all ages and of all abilities. Because I also teach ESL/ESOL I can easily work with students for whom English is not their first language. In every situation I strive to make learning fun and exciting and every session is a happy experience.


My undergraduate degree from UIC is in Speech and Communication. I have also won distinctions at the regional and national level for speech in college.

Currently, I teach voice and diction courses at Lake Forest College, which include diagnosing speech pathologies in students and devising a therapeutic plan for correction of these pathologies. Typical problems for me to diagnose include breathing issues which range from insufficient support of the vocal process, excessive or uncontrolled release of breath during phonation, reduction of excessive upper-thoracic breathing, and clavicular breathing, and developing proper diaphragmatic breathing skills; vocal relaxation, tonality and voice placement - eliminating nasality, throatiness, hoarseness, harshness, and articulation correction including drills to correct tongue placement and use of the articulators - lips, tongue, hard and soft palate, pharynx and glottis. I evaluate and correct issues of pitch in the speaking voice which can cause strain and, if unchecked, damage to the vocal folds. I improve vocal resonance through posture, breathing, and development of control of the use of the body's resonating cavities.

I also work to reduce stress from communication apprehension and anxiety as well as stage fright through relaxation techniques including visualization, yoga, breath control and tension-relieving exercises.

I use the International Phonetic Alphabet to develop awareness and train for proper articulation and self-listening skills using the techniques developed by Arthur Lessac and Kenneth Crannell.


I have taught theater and speech for over 30 years at all levels from high school to college to conservatory to even summer music camps.


As a college professor I work with international students every day and I know and understand the language difficulties and issues that occur in both work and academic settings.

Because I have studied and taught communication and theater performance courses I understand how language is used and perceived by native and non-native speakers including certain elements of delivery such as non-verbal communication, body language and facial expression that can provide important clues to decipher meaning across a wide range of communication experiences.

It can be difficult to determine the accurate meaning when a person is using sarcasm, irony, or humor to make a point. These subtleties of American communication include tone, pitch, and inflection. Because I teach public speaking and ESL/ESOL I include all of these elements into my lessons in American English.

All lessons are based on the student's goals and needs. I don't try to teach you what you already know and I don't give up teaching something until I am positive the student has completely mastered the skill.

Because I teach voice and articulation I am a specialist in accent reduction and I use the IPA to help give every student an authentic American sound if that is their goal. I also remind students that having an unusual accent makes them unique and interesting. It can be important to keep your natural sound for your private life but to have a polished, professional sound for public life.

Speaking, Writing, Reading, and Listening are the cornerstones of mastering any language and I incorporate each skill into every lesson. I have been teaching for a long time and I know how to make fast progress but at the same time to have fun and make learning enjoyable for everyone!

Let me help you add ENGLISH to your list of accomplishments.


Words are power. The more words you know the more powerful you become. Having a rich, wide-ranging vocabulary gives you confidence and credibility. In our fast-paced information age we hear more than we read and we feel we know more than we can actually do. We are comfortable using words we've heard others use many times and we "understand" the meaning of the word but when pressed to offer the exact definition of the word we panic and often fail.

Making words our friends and the dictionary our partner gives us limitless power of expression in our writing and in our speech. Through guided readings and word games I can expand anyone's vocabulary easily, but it takes practice. Work with me to make language your strength and communication your best asset. You'll gain respect, build your confidence and make a great impression on employers, family and friends.

Voice (Music)

I teach basic voice production beginning with posture, breathing and relaxation exercises. This is followed by ear training for pitch and rhythm and music notation through exercises, drills, and sight reading.

Once a basic methodology is established we then explore how to communicate with the voice, through music, song, and extended forms. We explore dynamics and articulation for meaning and musical precision.

Students who have already mastered the basic methodology may begin with the exploration of song styles and delivery. Opera, Operetta, and Musical Theater are the styles I most enjoy teaching. A long career teaching and directing countless operas, operettas and musicals provides a rich store of knowledge about how to present each form authentically and professionally.

Students may choose to focus on a specific genre, style or composer(s) or may choose to survey the available options best suited for their voice.

Preparations for auditions, coaching for performing roles, or just for fun and enjoyment are equally encouraged.

World History

History is about learning lessons from what others have experienced in the past. Things that we, as humans, experience and often repeat in our search for power, prestige, and wealth. An intricate balance of power has been in place for centuries and when that balance is upset the result is war, destruction, death, famine, and injustice.

History is not just remembering the dates, names, and places of past events. History is about understanding how each action affects others across time and space. History is about understanding what it is that makes us human beings and how our actions and the consequences of our actions set in motion processes and policies that affect the rest of humanity.


Creative projects and compelling arguments are my favorite forms of writing to tutor. Whether your writing goal is dramatic or humorous, poetic or suspenseful, I can help you find the right word, rhyme, quotation, or turn of phrase to make your writing stand out from the rest.

My work experience teaching Rhetoric at the college level provides a solid platform to help you with persuasive arguments, compelling cause-and-effect prose, and other kinds of logical appeal styles.

I also worked for several years in the advertising industry in TV, Radio, and print media so an effective sales pitch is another skill I can help you master in your writing.

From student to professional I enjoy helping people who want to improve their writing so they can express themselves clearly and eloquently.

University of Illinois, Chicago
Communication Theate
1977, B.A.
DePaul University, Chicago


University of Illinois, Chicago (Communication Theate)

1977, B.A. (Master's)

DePaul University, Chicago (Master's)

Great Teacher — I have enjoyed his class very much and improved my hearing skills as well as my ability to speak. Teaching native language to foreigners must me difficult, and I believe that it does take an extra amount of enthusiasm and patience. I have found that he has both perfectly combined in his teaching skills as well as great passion to motivate his student. His preparation with the materials were grea ...

— Jackie, Wheeling, IL on 11/1/12

Hourly rate

Standard Hourly Rate: $75.00

Cancellation: 8 hours notice required

Travel policy

Dennis will travel within 35 miles of Lake Forest, IL 60045.