Jennifer Cruz, piano
Dr. Jennifer Cruz is the Director of Keyboard Studies and Associate Professor at the Collinsworth School of Performing Arts at California Baptist University. This past May 2023, the Board of Trustees affirmed her application for tenure. Previously, she served as a staff pianist and faculty at the University of La Verne. An active member of the Music Teachers’ Association of California (MTAC), Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), and California Association of Professional Music Teachers (CAPMT), she also served two consecutive terms as Treasurer and First Director on the MTAC State Board and as President of the MTAC Diamond Bar Branch.
Aside from collegiate teaching in applied piano instruction, piano literature, and pedagogy (undergraduate and graduate courses), Dr. Cruz frequents as a solo and collaborative artist, lecturer, and clinician. She recently served as a Faculty Artist in Residence for the 2023 Montecito International Music Festival at California Baptist University, where she conducted masterclasses and was a featured artist in various recital showcases. In 2018, she and select CBU faculty were invited to perform and present masterclasses at notable institutions and concert venues in China. An active adjudicator for MTNA, MTAC, CAPMT, and the Southern California Jr. Bach Festival (SCJBF), she has also judged for the Seattle International Piano Competition. An enthusiast of collaborative piano works, she regularly enjoys performing with fellow musicians at several MTNA, MTAC, and CAPMT/YPLN events. Her past orchestral appearances have been with the Bellflower Symphony and LA Bach Festival Orchestra.
An avid pedagogue, she conducts master classes and clinics throughout Southern California and has presented conference sessions for MTNA, MTAC, and CAPMT. Apart from serving as Keyboard Faculty liaison and overseeing program organization, she actively participated in panel discussions and student coaching. Her published articles “Can You Hear Me Now: Helping Students Overcome Distraction” (2021) and “Ready, Create, Inspire!” (2018) appear in the peer-reviewed California Music Teacher journal. She also co-authored an article (with USC Collegiate chapter members) entitled “Sight-Reading for the Contemporary Pianist,” featured in the Fall 2022 issue of the CAPMT Connect Journal. In 2020, she designed and launched a Piano Pedagogy degree concentration at California Baptist that has since continued to thrive. Many of her former students have pursued affluent musical careers, including successfully managing their piano studios.
Dr. Cruz holds degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Southern California (DMA and MM) with Minor fields in Music Education, Keyboard Collaborative Arts, and Piano Pedagogy, and from the Eastman School of Music (BM). Her former teachers include Stewart Gordon, Alan Smith, Grace Fong, Gail Niwa, Nelita True, and Mark Richman. She regularly maintains an active teaching studio and especially enjoys mentoring her students in pursuing career paths that positively impact others, equipping them with important life skills to achieve goals while inspiring others to do the same.