This article reports on an exploratory investigation of the relationship between prior experience of formal instrumental music tuition (FIMT) and the process of collaborative computer-based music composition. The study linked a school in the UK with a school in Norway to engage in computer-mediated collaborative composition via e-mail. Participants were grouped into composing pairs (one from each country) balanced for prior musical experience. Results revealed prior experience of FIMT was associated with extended and complex musical dialogues, critical engagement with musical ideas and produced an ‘exploratory’ environment. No prior experience of FIMT was associated with uncritical and descriptive dialogues and a ‘cumulative’ environment. Proposals for future research are discussed.