The scope of this presentation is to apply key concepts from design theory and social semiotics in order to investigate how the design of different forms of representation in music teaching and learning shapes the semiotic configuration of tuition and the process of meaning making and learning. There are several historically developed systems for representing music, even though the printed score seems to be the most frequently used system. In fact, the printed score seems to be the general focus of attention during one-to- one situations in formal instrumental teaching. Different systems of signs and forms of representation have emerged for different settings and functions. Within the context of such systems specific signs can be interpreted to make meaning. Dissimilar systems of representations of the same phenomena – like musical notation or tablature – bring different features of the phenomena in focus and leave other aspects in the shadow. Different systems also require various interpretation strategies and affect the patterns of interaction in the social settings where they come to use.We analyse and compare different systems for representation of music with a particular focus on how they shape the social power relations during tuition and how they bring forward certain musical features while leaving out others. We also discuss musical literacy in relation to different types of systems for representations. The printed music score is often taken to be a perfect image of the sounding music although it requires many years of experience to understand how to interpret the score of a musical work in a specific context. Instruction books for tuition in instrumental teaching and learning seldom have a written text, and leave the student with just the printed music as a guide. A discussion will be made regarding how different systems of signs can affect students’ possibilities to learn.