Just as there is a reciprocity between the rower and the oar – the oarlock creates the rower as the sail creates the yachtsman – so too is there a reciprocity at the heart of the relationship between teacher and learner. In this chapter I take this as the starting point for an exploration of the use of cultural tools in teaching music with pupils age 15-16 in the Swedish school system. I have found the metaphor of cultural tools to be particularly useful in coming to understand ensemble teaching in a system such as this, wherein the notion of a ‘school for all’ is built on a Deweyan ‘learning by doing’ approach and embedded in a curriculum which says teaching should be individually adapted for every child while ensuring that all can reach officially determined goals. Using Hultberg’s (2009) cultural psychological model of musical learning as a framework of analysis, I draw on research I have undertaken into my own professional practice and that of two other music teachers. I explore the realities of teaching in a room of 25-30 pupils of mixed ability and the strategies we used in adapting to each student’s individual needs.