Tony Bridgewater spent the first part of his career as a music teacher at Ridgewood High School and Old Swinford Hospital School, Stourbridge, in the West Midlands. Over 32years he received praise for his work both in and out of the classroom, including special mentions in school Ofsted inspections. He was given particular credit for his work in engaging all students in class, as well as for the quality and diversity of his extracurricular activities, which included music tours abroad and annual musical shows such as 'My Fair Lady' , 'The Boyfriend' and 'Little Shop of Horrors', as well as an extensive range of instrumental groups, bands, orchestras and choirs. He was also a temporary Music Adviser for Dudley Education Authority, and did much work to foster musical links between primary and secondary schools.
During his time at Old Swinford the Music Department expanded considerably. He directed the school Concertband, Swingband and Choir, and gave many concerts both in England and on tours abroad in Europe, at prestigious venues including St Mark's Cathedral, Venice, Salzburg Cathedral, Barcelona Cathedral and Montserrat Abbey. Other extracurricular activities included Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Junior Windband and Percussion Ensemble. A large proportion of students learnt a musical instrument and participated in extracurricular musical activcities; 12% of the whole school population took part in the 2007 tour to Italy.
Of his many A level students, all achieved grades A-C, on average exceeding their predicted grades by one grade level. About half of them went on to study music at leading UK universities including Durham and Oxford, or performance and composition at UK music colleges/conservatoires, a number also achieving scholarships. Until recently five of his former students were all studying together at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
He was a Graduate Teacher Training Programme teacher trainer and subject coordinator of Music for the King Edward's Teacher Training Consortium in Birmingham, helping many graduates to begin their own careers as music teachers.