Despite a growing body of advocacy for the beneficial effects of music education upon individuals’ development and wellbeing, lived experiences in the music classroom are testament to a diversity of both positive and negative musical encounters. For some pupils, classroom music-making is characterized by opportunities, achievements, and friendships. But for others it is redolent of shortcomings, disappointments, and conflicts. This reveals an urgent need for researchers and practitioners to acknowledge pupils’ “musical vulnerability”: their inherent and situational openness to being affected by the semantic and somatic properties of music. In this essay, I offer a detailed conceptualization of musical vulnerability and its place in music education. I outline Judith Butler’s seminal theory of linguistic vulnerability and evaluate how her conviction that language can cause hurt and harm may help redress the simplistic coupling of music and wellbeing lauded by music education advocacy. Drawing upon feminist vulnerability studies, I then reflect upon the distinctive experiences of inherent, situational, and pathogenic musical vulnerabilities in the classroom, and their relation to institutional, interpersonal, and individual responses to music’s particular semantic and somatic properties. I conclude by proposing how the conceptualization of musical vulnerability could transform music education through cultivating a renewed ethic of care.