top of page
My name is Kai Cruz, and I’m one of the instructors at UP Music. I’m looking forward to helping your students explore and discover their own love for music!
What was your first experience in music?
The first performance that really stands out in my memory is in 1 st grade, in music class.
We went around the room and every student had to sing something for the class. While
my classmates almost invariably sang something like Mary had a little lamb or their ABC’s,
I sang Close to You by The Carpenters, a song my grandmother often sang to me. At the
end of elementary school, my music teacher and band director Mrs. Henley told me this
was the moment she knew I was made for music.
What instruments do you play, and which one is your primary expertise?
Tenor and Bass Trombone, Euphonium, trumpet, and brass instruments in general,
though I’m primarily a tenor trombonist. I also do a great Sinatra at karaoke!
Have you performed professionally or collaborated with any notable musicians or
I have performed with the Jacksonville symphony orchestra, the Volker
Brass Quintet, the First Coast Wind Symphony, the Kansas City Latin Jazz Orchestra,
the Mica Bethea big band, and the TBA big band, and over my career, I’ve been
blessed with the opportunity to perform with legends like The Dallas Brass, Marcus
Printup, Marcus Roberts, Ulysses Owens Jr., and my personal trombone hero Dave
Can you share any success stories or testimonials from your previous students?
My students have gotten into universities such as Berklee, Valdosta State University,
Georgia State University, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Curtis Institute of
Music. One of my personal favorite student success stories is one of my students, who
went from an underfunded public elementary school with no music program to getting
into the audition-only elite Lavilla school of the arts middle school for piano.
If money was no option, what dream vacation would you go on?
I have always dreamed of witnessing the famous cherry blossoms blooming in Yoshino,
Japan, and I would love to one day take a trip to also see the Tokyo Kosei Wind
Orchestra perform. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival is also one of my
favorite events, and I would love to splurge some day on the Big Chief VIP passes.
What do you do when you’re not teaching?
I love stand-up comedy, Dungeons and Dragons, World Mythology, and I’m also a tournament
official and passionate player of the card game Magic: The Gathering. After class, you can often
find me watching stand-up specials with my Brittany spaniel/border collie mix Indigo.
bottom of page