Mr. Curtis Raymond Craver Jr.
Extraordinary teacher who had such a passion for music and a dear friend. He transformed me from a student who loved music to a student who understood, loved ,and greatly appreciated clarinet music. I still remember vividly one of my lessons when I was warming up, I had begun to play Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 (the second part), and all of a sudden Mr. Craver joins in playing the first part in harmony with me. I got chills it was so beautiful, and now every time I hear this song, I hear him playing. When I started teaching young students, I remember the first time I asked him for advice with my students, how enthusiastic he was that I was teaching and how he also used to teach when he was a student to earn money for his lessons. He always gave me the best advice to better understand, connect with, and teach my students. I will miss him so much and am honored to have been his student and his friend.
I was sad to hear of Mr. Craver's passing. I was a clarinet student of Mr. Craver from 1992-1997 and still have such fond memories of him and his basement studio where we had our lessons. He was able to transform a mediocre clarinetist into a regular all-state band participant. Though I no longer play clarinet, I think the lessons he taught often transcended the finer details of playing clarinet. I saw how setting high expectations for me motivated me to work harder. I saw how clarinet skill was more the result of hard work than natural talent. And I saw how a few carefully placed corny jokes could lighten the mood and make everything seem a little bit easier. He was such a positive influence on my life and I never fail to think of him on the few occasions I do find myself playing clarinet or giving pointers to some of the kids in my neighborhood just starting out on clarinet. I will miss him.
Mr. Craver was such a presence in the music department at NCSU. He was kind hearted, someone you could laugh with, and so supportive. When I decided I wanted to get to first chair flute in the band, I took lessons from Mr. Craver and he helped me achieve my goal! Whenever I think of him I smile. We've lost so many music department mentors from the 80's in the past few years, but Mr. Craver was the foundation, the quiet presence, quick with a joke, so talented. We will all miss him so much.
The first time that I heard Mr. Craver play the clarinet was in my first lesson with him in 1993. I actually wished that I could somehow capture his sound and have it come out of my clarinet - his tone was so beautiful, his technique was so clean, and his tapers added so much musicality. His high expectations made me want to be a better musician and transformed me from last chair in my band to first chair in the NC all-state band with a scholarship to college. I'm now in my ninth year teaching as a clarinet professor in Missouri and I use what he taught me everyday with my own students (including a few of his jokes). His passion for the clarinet will remain with me, as well as the memories of going to his basement studio, smelling the wood burning stove and hearing him come down the stairs for my lesson. Even a few years ago in his nineties when I called him to say hello, he was still interested in what I thought about the latest mouthpieces and clarinet models. He continues to be a role model for me - especially in the way that he taught with both compassion and high expectations for perfection. I'm sure that he's looking down from heaven right now playing his favorite clarinet solo from the end of Night on Bald Mountain with a perfect reed and a smile.
A wonderful man, instructor, and corny joke teller. My son studied under him for 8 years and then went on to major in clarinet at UNC! We have the fondest memories of both Mr. and Mrs. Craver formed during those lessons.