Thomas Cramer entered the conservatory at Oberlin College in 1937. He arranged to get Oberlin credit while studying with a trombonist in the Cleveland Orchestra. World War II began while he was an Oberlin student. After he graduated with a bachelor of music degree in 1941, he was a warrant officer and band leader in the US Army for four and a half years.
He received an MA from the University of Chicago in 1947 and was an assistant in music theory there. He also studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Juilliard, and Western Reserve University.
Ten years after his graduation, Cramer joined the Oberlin faculty as the first resident trombone teacher. He is the only faculty member to have held an appointment in both applied studies and theory. After teaching 37 years at Oberlin College, Cramer retired in 1984. Tom Cramer was highly thought of by his students as is evident by the 51 alumni and students who participated in the trombone reunion choir concert on May 5, 1991.
Thomas E. Cramer passed away in 2009. Sounds of Strength is being produced in his memory.