SALEM — If you don’t think music is an important part of education — and life, for that matter — then you never met Carlton G. Lutts Jr.
As a boy at the old Pickering School, he was given a clarinet and never stopped playing. Well, to be perfectly honest, he was actually given a violin, but when he brought it home, his father, a musician of some note, called the band director to say he thought a different instrument might be better. Hence, the clarinet.
Lutts played the clarinet in the Salem High marching and jazz bands and, for years, played at venues around the North Shore with local bands.
His favorite band, however, was the family band that played every Sunday at his home and included his wife, Nancy, and their five children.
“It was mandatory,” said his son, Rob Lutts, a trumpet player who heads Cabot Money Management. “We all hated it when we did it, but, in hindsight, we loved it.”
Carlton Lutts passed on a love of music to his children and to most everyone who met him.
Maybe that’s why, when he died last November at 86, the family decided that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions would go to the Salem High School Band.
The kind gesture generated heartfelt notes, cards and letters — and nearly $8,000 in donations, which were used to build cabinets for the band room, fund private lesson scholarships and purchase two clarinets.
Part of the money was spent on landscaping and two outdoor benches in front of the “band door” at Salem High, a place where music students sit after rehearsals while waiting for a ride home.
On one bench is inscribed “Carlton G. Lutts, Clarinetist.” On the other, “Music Makes Winners.”
“My dad honestly believed that,” said Rob Lutts. “He believed that music helps people grow and mature.”