Dijana Ihas is an Associate Professor of Music Education at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, where she teaches undergraduate courses in music education as well as directs/conducts the Pacific Philharmonic Orchestra. Dr. Ihas also serves as a Music Education Area Chair. She’s a Founding Director and Master Teacher of the Pacific University String Project, an after-school music education program that provides affordable, high-quality string education to school-aged students while at the same time gives an opportunity to undergraduate students to practice their teaching skills under her close supervision. The Pacific University String Project is the first program of its kind in Oregon, and this program received the Outstanding String Project of 2018 Award by the American String Teachers Association with the National String Project Consortium. In Fall 2019, String Project evolved into a larger program titled Music Education Project with three subdivisions: Choral Project, Band Project, and String Project. In these three projects, music education students, as well as qualified students from other areas of studies and other disciplines, have an opportunity to engage in teaching processes with community students who can choose to play band and/or string instruments and/or sing. This is the only after-school music education program in the nation that offers a comprehensive and well-rounded curriculum to both college and school-aged students, while addressing the shortage of well-prepared and qualified music teachers.
Prior to her position at Pacific University, Dr. Ihas taught elementary through high school strings, orchestra, choir, elementary music, and general music in public schools in California, Arizona, and Oregon for seven years. During her teaching career at Sprague High School (Salem, OR), its advanced string orchestra Camerata won the Oregon String Orchestra State Championship for three consecutive years (2009-2011), as well as a selective national competition known as the Mark of Excellence for two consecutive years (2009-2010). In addition, Sprague’s intermediate orchestra performed in festivals and competitions and received noticeable ratings. In her final year of teaching in public schools, Sprague’s full symphony orchestra, co-directed by Dr. Ihas, won the Oregon Full Orchestra State Championship (2011).
Dr. Ihas’ research embraces the wide range of questions related to music education including the development of higher levels of thinking through conceptual teaching in orchestra classes, string pedagogy as applied to teaching string instruments in various educational settings, mentoring undergraduate research, and equity of access to music and string education in public schools. She participated in a 3–year (2014-2016) research seminar on Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research at Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning (Elon, North Carolina). As a member of a group of thirty international and national scholars, she was engaged in collaborative, multi-disciplinary research on mentoring undergraduate research, which resulted in three published referred articles and a chapter in the handbook on Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research (2018, Council on Undergraduate Research). Dr. Ihas was the only scholar representing the arts within this research seminar, and her insights greatly contributed to the understanding of research methodologies that are unique to the arts and intricacies of mentoring undergraduate research in music and the arts. Her studies have been published in the Journal of String Research, the American String Teacher Journal, the Oregon Music Educators Journal, CUR Quarterly, Innovative Higher Education, Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, and the National Federation of State High School Music Association Journal.
While living in her native Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr. Ihas performed in professional capacity as a viola player with Sarajevo’s four professional orchestras: Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, Sarajevo Symphony Orchestra, Sarajevo Opera Orchestra, and Sarajevo Chamber Orchestra. She was also the viola player of the Sarajevo String Quartet, a professional group, which for its unprecedented efforts in the preservation of human dignity during the Bosnian War (1992-1995), captured the close attention of media at the international level. This group of four intrepid musicians was the subject of inspirational stories in dozens of journals around the globe, and its artistic endeavors during the siege of Sarajevo were captured in a chapter of the book Sarajevo Roses: War Memoir of a Peacekeeper and in the documentary Sarajevo Strings. The group received the highest honor that the Bosnian government can bestow upon its citizens.
Dr. Ihas’ educational background includes PhD in Music Education and String Pedagogy from the University of Oregon, Master’s Degree of Music Education from the University of Arizona, Master’s of Fine Arts in Viola Performance from the University of California in Irvine, and Bachelor’s Degree in Viola Performance from the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Dr. Ihas has received numerous awards, including Pacific University’s Faculty Achievement Award (2018) for her dedicated work with Pacific University’s music department and String Project, and Pacific University’s Junior Faculty Award (2015) for her dedication to excellence in teaching, scholarship, and creative work.