Faculty Spotlight: Ricardo Averbach

What do you do when you find out you will miss the entire first week of classes? Professor Ricardo Averbach, the Director of Orchestral Studies, found himself in that very situation when he had to travel abroad for a concert.

Dr. Ricardo Averbach, Director of Orchestral Studies, explains how he uses technology to accomplish his teaching goals. Video by Benjamin Hartman, Video Production Specialist.

Rather than canceling lessons, Professor Averbach became determined to find a solution for his MUS 352 Conducting I course. Looking to Miami resources, Averbach sought help from eLearning. He ultimately recorded a week’s worth of lectures in eLearning’s production studio, delivered them online through Canvas, and interacted with his students via video conferencing.

Dr. Averbach saw that students were learning just as effectively through distally mediated means. “I was impressed because when I came back, I had to test them and see if they learned,” he enthused. “It worked perfectly – no complaints, no negative observations.”

Teaching with technology did not stop there for Averbach, who has taught in the department of music for 16 years. He rented a camcorder from Miami’s network of distinguished libraries and filmed his students conducting.

“It is very important for the students to be able to see themselves while they conduct,” said Averbach. “When they came to class, they had to pretend that they had an orchestra in front of them.” The renowned conductor was more than satisfied: “It worked extremely well. I am impressed in how much the students were able to learn, and even if I had a real, live orchestra for them to conduct, I don’t think the results would have been as good.”

Averbach, who conducts the Miami University Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, and occasionally the Opera, admits that he was not well-versed in technology before arriving at Miami. However, with the help of the eLearning staff, he was able to utilize technology to accomplish his teaching goals. “Fortunately,” he says, “we have very competent people here who are experts on this and who are very sensitive to the needs of the faculty.”

Averbach offered sage counsel for faculty who might be curious about utilizing video or other technology in their own teaching. “I would advise people to try,” Averbach says. “Because, frankly, this is the future.”

Dr. Ricardo Averbach will conduct at Cincinnati Music Hall for “Miami Takes Music Hall” on Monday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. Buy tickets here.

Click here to watch the extended version of Dr. Averbach’s interview.