The structure, implementation and operation of music education at the primary level differs depending on the legislation of the education system within which the school operates. An inquiry-based project was completed over a 10-week period, with the overall aim of gaining an understanding of current teacher practice within music education in both Ireland and the United States. This article examines the Irish generalist and the American specialist models of music education from the teacher’s perspective. The overarching question guiding this research was ‘How is music education realised in Irish and American schools at the primary/elementary level?’. The project sought to investigate the specific challenges of both the generalist and specialist models to ascertain if one educational context might inform the other. Teacher surveys, teacher interviews, curriculum artefacts, expert interviews and contemporary literature around the topic were utilised as data sources to assimilate music educators’ perceived experiences of implementing their respective music curricula. Drawing from the data gathered, coded and quantitively and qualitatively analysed, two contrasting vignette-style stories are presented. A brief discussion follows that compares both models, highlighting some of their relative advantages and drawbacks.