Dr Helen Prior

Lecturer/ Member of the Faculty Ethics Committee

Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education


01482 462168

Helen is a music psychologist with interests in music perception and emotion and music performance.

She previously held a post-doctoral position with the Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice, at King’s College, London. There, she worked in the Shaping Music in Performance research group, led by Daniel Leech-Wilkinson.

More recently, Helen has been working with Dr Andrew King and Dr Rob MacKay on a research project investigating the use of online learning to support peripatetic music lessons in remote rural communities.

In her spare time, Helen enjoys playing the violin (modern and baroque) and the piano.


Research Interests

  • Psychology of music

  • Performance studies


Leech-Wilkinson D and Prior H M, Music and Shape, part of the CMPCP series (Oxford University Press, in preparation)

King E and Prior H M (eds), Music and Familiarity: Listening, Musicology and Performance, part of the SEMPRE Studies in the Psychology of Music series (Ashgate Publishing, 2013)

Prior H M, ‘Shape for Performing Musicians’, in Leech-Wilkinson D and Prior H (eds), Music and Shape (Oxford University Press, in preparation)

Greasley A E and Prior H M, ‘Shaping Popular Music’, in Leech-Wilkinson D and Prior H (eds), Music and Shape (Oxford University Press, in preparation)

Leech-Wilkinson D and Prior H M, ‘Heuristics for Expressive Performance’, in Fabian D, Schubert E and Timmers R (eds), Expressiveness in Music Performance: Empirical and Cultural Approaches (Oxford University Press, 2014)


Modules list

  • Psychology of Music and Emotion

Research PhDs

Completed PhDs 

Küssner M, Shape, Drawing and Gesture: Cross-Modal Mappings of Sound and Music (2014), completed at King's College, London (second supervisor).

Feygelson E, Nonverbal Communication in Improvised Contexts: Observing the Exchange of Musical Ideas at the i=u Festival (2015), completed at King's College, London (second supervisor)

Current PhD supervisions 

Swaine J, Emotional Self-Regulation through Music

Presicce G, Music and Imagery

Teaching awards and accolades

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • BMus, University of Hull

  • Msc, Keele University

  • PhD, University of Hull

  • PGDip, University of Hull

  • PGCHE, University of Hull

External roles

Involvement in professional organisations

  • Anonymous reviewer for Psychomusicology Review (2013– )

  • Conference Secretary, SEMPRE (2012– )

  • Member of IMR Music and Science Steering Group (2009–2013)

  • Anonymous reviewer for Psychology of Music (2009– )

  • Member of RMA (2004– )

  • Member of SEMPRE (2003– )

Conference management

Member of the organising committee of the SEMPRE Musical Cultures Conference (2017)

Member of the organising committee of the CMPCP Music and Shape Conference (2012)

Organiser of the CMPCP 'Music and Shape Workshop II: Exploring Qualitative Research Methods' (2010)

Co-organiser of the SEMPRE Music and Familiarity Conference (2009)

Organiser of postgraduate roundtable event (2006)

Awards and accolades

  • Aubrey Hickman Award (£500), Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research "in recognition of a paper that offers a significant and previously unpublished contribution to the knowledge and understanding of music education or music psychology" (2008)

  • Royal Musical Association bursaries to present at their students’ conferences (2007 and 2008)

  • Psychology Postgraduate Association bursary to present at their annual conference (2006)

  • University of Hull Staff Development Fund grant to present at the Royal Musical Association Students’ Conference (2006)

  • Departmental funding for research costs for empirical work contributing to PhD (2005–06).

  • GTA position (equivalent level of funding to AHRC, totalling £34,800 over three years) from University of Hull, for duration of PhD.

  • Fees scholarship from Keele University to study for Masters in Music Psychology.

  • Departmental Prize for Academic Achievement on completion of Bachelor of Music degree.