Music education researchers have sought to clarify two fundamental issues. The first concerns ‘the extent to which musical progress is sequenced and orderly, and why some children’s progress appears to be effortless in contrast to others who struggle’ (McPherson, 2005, p. 5). The second concerns how successful learners are able to acquire the resilience needed to ‘bounce back’ despite stresses and distractions which impact on motivation and a desire to continue learning (West & Rostvall, 2003; Costa-Giomi, Flowers, & Sasaki, 2005). This article aims to contribute to research on these issues in the context of instrumental music lessons, by presenting a dynamic model linking skills acquisition (from the perspective of scaffolding theory) and self-determination theory. We argue that musical development is a transactional, dynamic process in which the scaffolding of the music student’s skills and self-determination are deeply intertwined. Within this conception, teacher-student interactions are conceptualized at the micro- and macro-level time scales, and are viewed as mutually connected. We conclude by discussing the ways in which this model can guide future research.