Pilot Point ISD Instructional Band Staff
Mr. Daniel Balkema – Director of Bands - Pilot Point High School - Office: 940-686-8740 x. 231
Mr. Balkema is in his 16th year of teaching and 7th year at Pilot Point High School. He is a graduate from the University of North Texas in 2003, with a Bachelors degree in Music Education, and holds a Master’s degree in Music Education from the University of Hawaii, all with an emphasis in Instrumental Music. While at UNT, he was a member of the Marching Green Brigade, and a member of the Concert Band, Symphonic Band and Brass Band. Mr. Balkema is a Brass specialist with Trumpet being his primary instrument. While at UH, he was an active member in Music Education research for the University. His Master’s Thesis involved “Parental Involvement and the Success and Motivation of Texas Band Programs.”
After Graduating from UNT in 2003, Mr. Balkema was hired for the Midland Independent School District as the assistant band director for Lee Senior High School. Mr. Balkema's many responsibilities included teaching marching band, brass sectionals, assisting the concert and symphonic bands, teaching beginner brass classes at the junior high’s, and teaching the entire jazz program. His bands have made Consistent UIL Sweepstakes and he attended the State Marching Competition with the Lee Senior High School Band two years in a row while in Midland. While Mr. Balkema was an assistant at Lee Senior High School, the Lee Senior High School Band was nominated as The “Texas Exemplary Band Program” by the Texas BandMasters Association.
In 2007, Mr. Balkema moved back to the Dallas area and was hired by the Dallas Independent School District teaching at George W. Truett Elementary School. During his 6 year tenure at Truett E.S., his responsibilities included teaching the entire music program including beginner band, choir, guitar, and general music and was the fine arts department head.
Mr. Balkema currently holds a Professional Certification through the State of Texas and is certified to teach All-Level Kindergarten through 12th grade music. He is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Bandmasters Association, Texas Music Adjucators Association - UIL Marching Judge, National Association of Music Education, International Trumpet Guild, and has been nominated three times for the "Who's Who Among American Teachers" award. He currently resides in McKinney, TX with his wife Liz, 7 year old little girl named Lily, 4 and a half year old Andrew, and dog Daphne.
Mrs. Leah Cobb –Assistant Director - Middle School / High School - Office: 940-686-8730 x. 415
Mrs. Cobb is in her 12th year of teaching and 5th year in Pilot Point. She grew up in Azle, Tx, just Northwest of Fort Worth, where she was active in band, choir, and athletics. She attended the Texas State Marching Contest and Texas State Solo & Ensemble Contest as a member of the Azle Band. She graduated from Azle High School in 2004, and went on to receive a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Oklahoma in 2008. While at OU she performed in the Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Woodwind Ensembles, Flute Choir, and University Chorus. She also worked as a Woodwind Instructor for the New Horizon's Band, worked as a Music Instructor at the Camp Heart O' Hills Salvation Army Music Conservatory, and taught private flute lessons.
Mrs. Cobb completed her student teaching at Sanger ISD in 2008. After graduation, she began her teaching career in Celina, where she was the Assistant Director of Bands for 7 years. Her woodwind students consistently place in the All-Region & All-Area Bands, as well as receiving Superior and Outstanding Ratings at the Texas State Solo & Ensemble Contest. Mrs. Cobb also enjoys judging Middle School Solo & Ensemble Contests and teaching flute sectionals at the Princeton Sounds of Summer Band Camp.
Her professional associations include the Texas Music Educators Association and the Association of Texas Small School Bands. Currently, Mrs. Cobb and her husband, Ryan, Love to spend lots of time outdoors with their two golden retrievers, Belle and Lyric, spending time and enjoying their new addition to their family, Grayson, born in July 2020, and watching college football (Boomer Sooner!)
Mr. Joseph Cohn –Assistant Director - Pilot Point High School / Middle School - Office: 940-686-8730 x. 415
Joseph Cohn is excited to begin his first year as a band director at Pilot Point ISD. Mr. Cohn graduated in the class of 2020 at Sam Houston State University with a bachelors degree in Music Education. As a member of a military family, he lived in many different places before his family settled in College Station, Texas, where he was also an active member and leader of the College Station High School Band program. Mr. Cohn then began his studies at Sam Houston State University in the Fall of 2015. During his time studying under Director of Percussion Studies Dr. John Lane, he represented Sam Houston as a performer in a number of ensembles including The Bearkat Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Group, Symphony Orchestra, Steel Band, and the Angry Orange Basketball Band. As a member of these performing ensembles, Mr. Cohn had the opportunity to perform in a number of premiere venues such as the American Bandmasters Association Conference, Percussive Arts Society International Convention Focus Day, Reliant Stadium, and the Woodlands Pavilion. He can also be heard on World Premiere recordings of pieces composed by Kyle Kindred, Gabriella Frank, and Monica Pearce, as well as his own compositions and collaborations.
While pursuing his Music Education degree, Mr. Cohn was heavily involved in teaching Percussion at College Station High School, College Station Middle School, and Wellborn Middle School as a Percussion Technician and Private Lesson instructor. In his 4 years teaching in the College Station, Mr. Cohn’s students received numerous caption awards during their marching seasons, advanced through the TMEA All-Region process, and received outstanding ratings at the UIL State Solo and Ensemble Contest. He also held the position of Front Ensemble Coordinator for the inaugural season in 2019 for Brazos Valley Independent Indoor Percussion, an independent indoor marching percussion ensemble that competed in Texas WGI contests and TCGC circuits in the Spring of 2019.
He completed his final semester at Sam Houston by student teaching at Keller High School and Indian Springs Middle School in Keller ISD under the instruction of Mark McGahey and David Puckett. During his time there, he taught a number of beginner band classes as well as sectionals and chamber ensembles at all grade levels. Mr. Cohn is currently a member of Texas Music Educators’s Association and the Percussive Arts Society. When he is not teaching, Mr. Cohn enjoys spending time with his family in College Station and Conroe, Texas.
Mr. Howard Lewis –Retired / Part Time Director
Mr. Lewis is retired after 31years of teaching band. His years of experience, which include Strickland Middle School in Denton, Bussey and O’Banion M.S. in Garland, Ford M.S. in Allen, two years of private teaching with several All State Students, and Timpson H.S. and now, Pilot Point. Mr. Lewis has been helping out in Pilot Point for the last 7 years. When in High School, he was a member of the Longview Lobo Band under the direction of John (Pete) Kunkel. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Stephen F. Austin State University under Mel Montgomery, in Nacogdoches Texas. (That is where a lot of his accent comes from) Howard has almost all of his hours towards a Masters Degree from S.F.A. as well. In addition, Mr. Lewis is a charter member of the Association of Texas Small School Bands and a charter member of The National Association of Military Marching Bands. He is also a member of Texas Music Educators Association and the Texas Bandmasters Association.
He enjoys spending time with his band kids, old cars, a good joke, traveling to the Ozark Mountains, especially on his Harley Davidson, World War II aviation history, target shooting, and looking at performances of military bands, marching to precision military drill, playing traditional marches. (Somewhat of a lost art in bands today). Mr. Lewis believes that, as with all great accomplishments in humankind, that strengths and successes come with people who are united in spirit and purpose. When individuals “band” together and unite towards a goal, there is no limit as to what the human spirit can achieve. Music is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act or a circumstance, but a habit. That is part of what a band teaches, and he tries to instill this in all of his students. A goal is to be better than you ever thought you could be. Two favorite expressions are;
1.) To be on time is to be late, to be early is to be on time. 2.) Be Ready !!
Howard Lewis has always considered his students his strength, and reasons for existence, and has always thought of them as his family. Band Geeks are his Heroes.
We are very fortunate that Mr. Lewis has decided to help out the Pilot Point Band Program