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K-State Today

September 5, 2023

Dirks publishes mental health and music education research

Submitted by the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

Rachel L. Dirks, K-State director of orchestral studies, recently published two works exploring the intersection of mental health and music education.

Along with a team of colleagues, Dirks' mixed-method research study, "Mental Health and String Education: Identifying Key Concerns Within the American String Teachers Association Community," is now published in the String Research Journal. Additionally, Dirks contributed a chapter to "The Oxford Handbook of Care in Music Education," titled "Student and Teacher Mental Health: Nurturing Wellbeing Within a Climate of Trust."

Dirks is an active conductor, clinician, researcher and teacher. In addition to her work with the K-State Symphony Orchestra, she teaches graduate and undergraduate string education and conducting courses as well as applied cello. She has collaborated with orchestras throughout the United States, most recently in New York, Georgia, Hawaii and Minnesota. As a featured clinician and educator, she has presented her research for numerous music education conferences in the United States and Europe.

A Kansas native, Dirks holds cello performance degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and Bethel College as well as a doctorate in music education with an emphasis in orchestral conducting from the University of Kansas. Her current research surrounding the mental well-being of music students and teachers is published in numerous books, periodicals and online resources. She also serves as the current chair of the American String Teachers Association Health and Wellness Committee. Throughout her experiences as a conductor and educator, her fundamental goal has been to encourage musicians to seek and create community through music.