The VCU Music Education Faculty presented awards to Seth Taft and Paul Bakeman at the VMEA VCU Alumni Reception on Friday, November 17, 2017. Seth Taft received the Outstanding Music Education Young Alumni Award for exemplary practice as a young Music Educator, and Paul Bakeman received the Outstanding Music Educator Award for innovative and exemplar practice in Music Education.
Seth Taft is a PhD student in Music Education at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he holds a teaching assistantship and is a recipient of the Hoover Music Teaching and Learning Scholarship. He is currently researching the experiences of migrating band directors and writing about optimism in music education and composition in ensemble classrooms. Mr. Taft holds Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Music Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. After graduating from VCU in 2013, he taught at Prince Edward County High School in Prince Edward, Virginia. While there, he helped the band program grow in size, returned the marching band to the competitive circuit, started the Aerie Brass Pep Band and a local chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, and laid the foundation for a new choir program. He completed the Master of Music in Music Education in 2017.
Paul Bakeman earned his Bachelor’s degree from VCU in 1994. Bakeman began teaching at Rural Point Elementary right after graduation and in his 23 years of teaching since then he has continued to excel in and beyond the classroom. In 2001, he was recognized as the Rural Point Elementary Teacher of the Year and was also a recipient of the R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence. Along with the recognition for his stellar work, the R.E.B. Award provided grant money for travel and further study. Having seen the power of drumming in both his classroom and the community, Bakeman chose to pursue a month of drumming study in Ghana in 2002, followed by a week-long workshop on community-focused drumming in Hawaii. He regularly teaches a World Drumming Class at VCU during summer sessions. Bakeman earned his Master’s degree in Music Education from VCU in 2004 and as part of his coursework, he turned the recorder content into a formal method book, Recorder Connections, which he began to self-publish. Sold through West Music, the book is now in the hands of music educators around the globe. Two years ago, Bakeman also published Cooking with Marimbas, which has also been well-received. Bakeman is also an instructor in the Masters in Music Education program at VCU. Each summer he teaches recorder for the Orff-Schulwerk level courses. In 2006, he achieved National Board Certification in early and middle childhood music and in 2009 was recognized as a Yale Distinguished Music Educator.