Solo and collaborative pianist Jennifer Cruz is an Assistant Professor in Piano for the Collinsworth School of Music at the California Baptist University where she oversees both the Keyboard and Collaborative piano departments. In addition to her administrative duties, she maintains a full teaching load every semester. Since being appointed the full-time position in 2016, Jennifer was recognized for her overall faculty performance and excellence in teaching and was awarded in 2017 with the highest rating (Superior) ever given by the Dean of the School of Music, followed by another top rating (Commendable) in 2018. She regularly teaches applied lessons, group piano classes, graduate music literature, and a variety of courses specializing in keyboard collaborative arts. She was recently nominated to serve on the 2018-2019 Faculty Senate as a Representative for the Collinsworth School of Music. Prior to joining Cal Baptist, she served on the adjunct piano faculty at the University of La Verne from 2013-2016 and also worked as a staff pianist.
Aside from collegiate teaching, Jennifer is an active piano evaluator for the Music Teacher’s Association of California’s (MTAC) Certificate of Merit® program since 2010. Most recently, she was an adjudicator for the East Valley Scholarship Competition held at the Steinway Gallery in Beverly Hills.
Since 2004, she has been an active member and contributor of professional music organizations including the Music Teacher’s Association of California and its local branch affiliate, the MTAC Diamond Bar Branch, and has held notable leadership positions at both the State and Branch level. She served two consecutive terms on the MTAC State Board of Directors from 2013-2017 as Treasurer and First Director while concurrently serving as a member of both the Executive and Finance Committees. From 2013-2016, Jennifer was appointed several roles on the State Convention Planning Committee including Chairman of Publicity, Hospitality, and as Convention Registrar.
On top of these respective positions, she was invited as guest presenter and performer at the annual State Convention events, such as the Contemporary Seminar program in 2017, where she presented on 20th-century Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin while also performing his Basso Ostinato (1961). An enthusiast of collaborative piano works, Jennifer performs with colleagues each year at Convention in the sought after Teacher’s Performance Recital, collaborating in two-piano works like Saint-Saen’s Danse Macabre and Piazzolla’s Libertango. She was one of five featured pianists at the 2016 Teacher’s Recital, performing Anderson & Roe’s widely-entertaining 5-piano work, Ragtime alla Turca. In addition, she is frequently asked to preside over numerous Convention sessions, lecture and student award recitals. She most recently joined the Music Teacher’s National Association (MTNA) and the California Association of Professional Music Teachers (CAPMT) and anticipates her active participation and future involvement in these organizations.
Notwithstanding her commitment to organizational leadership and service, Jennifer is an avid pedagogue and has been invited to conduct several master classes and clinics throughout Southern California. This fall 2018, her article “Ready, Create…Inspire!” will be featured in the California Music Teacher magazine, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Music Teacher’s Association of California. The article serves as a handbook for piano instructors and offers innovative and practical teaching strategies to help ignite a student’s creativity and interpretation in performance while enhancing musicianship skills. Besides her scholarly activity, Jennifer has also maintained a successful private teaching studio since 1997 and her students actively participate in various competitions, festivals, and programs throughout the year, including the Certificate of Merit®. Several of her students were offered music scholarships at major universities and have gone on to become successful music teachers and pianists.
A recipient of numerous prizes, awards, and scholarships, including being named a finalist in the Young Keyboard Artist Competition, Jennifer was also the first place winner at the prestigious Johanna Hodges International Piano Competition (Masterclass division) as well as the Elvin Samuel McGaughey Glendale Piano Competition and Scholarship Foundation. A gold medalist of the renowned Southern California Junior Bach Festival for three consecutive years, she made her orchestral debut with the Los Angeles Bach Festival Orchestra where she performed Bach’s Concerto in D Minor (BWV 1052). Since then, she has appeared with the Bellflower Symphony Association and was recently invited to perform with the Corona Symphony for their 2018-2019 concert season. Jennifer also frequently performs as a soloist and collaborative pianist for a series of faculty and student concerts at the Collinsworth School of Music. Apart from the University, she regularly appears as a guest artist at reputable festivals and concerts such as the South Bay Festival of the Arts.
An honor graduate of the University of Southern California (M.M.) and the Eastman School of Music (B.M. with Distinction) in piano performance, Jennifer was also a fellowship recipient at the Claremont Graduate University where she was enrolled in the Doctor of Musical Arts program under the tutelage of Dr. Grace Fong (Keyboard) and Dr. Jenny Kim (Fortepiano). She successfully completed a year at CGU with a 4.0 GPA and became a candidate in the prestigious collegiate chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success. Soon after, she decided to continue her studies at the University of Southern California where she is presently working on a DMA degree in piano performance with academic and minor fields in music teaching and learning, keyboard collaborative arts and piano pedagogy. She now studies with esteemed author and music scholar Dr. Stewart Gordon at USC, adding to her illustrious list of pedagogues of whom she had the privilege to study under. These include Dr. Nelita True, André Laplante, Fernando Laires, Gail Niwa, Mark Richman and Ruth Sitjar. Jennifer is projected to complete her doctorate in 2020.