Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2016 – Albany: Max Lifchitz
Max Lifchitz is active as educator, composer and performer. A graduate of The Juilliard School and Harvard University, he was invited to join the faculty of the University at Albany, State University of New York in 1986. Previously, he held teaching appointments at the Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University in the City of New York.
In addition to teaching a variety of music courses and general education offerings, Lifchitz has served as Chair of both the University at Albany’s Music Department and the Latin American, Caribbean, and US Latino Studies Department. He received the University at Albany Award for Excellence in Research in 2005. During the fall of 2006 he held the Elena Díaz-Verson Amos Eminent Scholar in Latin American Studies Chair at Columbus State University’s Center for International Education in Columbus, GA.
Lifchitz’s creative endeavors have been supported by grants and fellowships from the ASCAP Foundation; the Ford Foundation; the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation; Meet the Composer, Inc.; The University of Michigan Society of Fellows; the Individual Artist Program of the New York State Council on the Arts; and the National Endowment for the Arts.
“Always interested in finding innovative ways to reach and connect with young students, I developed an interest in on-line education almost 20 years ago. At that time, I was looking for an easier way to integrate audio and video materials into my classroom teaching. Somehow, I became aware of how suitable for this purpose was the then emerging communication medium known as the internet. During the summer of 1999 I had the opportunity to migrate onto the SUNY Learning Network the course I had developed a few years earlier with the help of a SUNY Central Faculty Grant for the Improvement of Undergraduate Instruction. Titled Music and Society in Latin America, the interdisciplinary course is designed to introduce undergraduate students to Latin American history, geography and culture by listening and thinking about music. In addition to selected readings, course participants are required to access various musical examples as well as watch attentively several videos related to Latin American music. The on-line medium also provides them with the opportunity to interact with each other via guided discussions and to improve technical and research skills. The course attracts participants not only from NYS but from many other national and international locations, thus providing students with a most valuable opportunity to interact with individuals from across cultures. Unlike the traditional classroom lecture setting, online teaching places emphasis on student learning through the use of innovative and empowering educational tools.”