Judith Hooper/Henderson

Judith Hooper/Henderson | a brief overview

Judith Hooper/Henderson is a musician, composer, writer and lecturer based in Oxfordshire.

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Judith Henderson (Hooper) | musician

Judith began playing the violin at the age of six, and went on to become a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for three years. She was also a keen vocalist, singing in choirs at school and at Cambridge University, where she held a choral scholarship. In 1999, Judith completed a diploma in music therapy at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, graduating with Distinction. She went on to work as a music therapist in various settings including schools, care homes and private practice.

Judith discovered her love of folk music in the course of an improvisation class during her music therapy training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. However, the earliest signs of her budding interest in improvisatory music-making can be traced back to when she was about seven years old. Sat amongst the ranks of violinists in a children's orchestra in Edinburgh, Judith recalls being reprimanded by a conductor for making up her own part in 'See the Conquering Hero Comes'. She longed to break away from the notes on the page, and to this day, few things make her happier than re-interpreting and performing traditional and contemporary folk tunes, as well as composing her own - all without the risk of being told off! Her playing style has evolved over the years to combine her classical background with her love of traditional music and has been influenced by the diverse playing of folk fiddlers John Dipper, Pete Cooper, Peter Knight, Oliver Wilson-Dickson, Sam Sweeney, and Eliza Carthy.


As an improvising musician, she has enjoyed a close association with Cecilia Macfarlane and Oxford Youth Dance, composing the music for several dance pieces, including ‘Journey of Ten Knights’ (Oxford Playhouse) and ‘Cityscape’ (Pegasus Theatre).

Judith Henderson and Georgie Steele
Judith Henderson with The Boot Band
Judith Henderson with Henderson:Hooper

Judith went on to form the fiddle and guitar duo Henderson:Hooper with her husband, Nick Hooper, in 2001. Since then, the duo has performed alongside numerous folk artists, including John Dipper and Gordon Giltrap as part of their Pop-up Folk series, and with singer and bass player Susanna Starling to form their trio, The Boot Band. In 2018, Henderson:Hooper released an album of largely self-written tunes in various traditional folk idioms, entitled Pete’s Trees. The album marks the history of their collaboration both as musicians and as a couple. Judith has also collaborated with storyteller Georgie Steele, and together they have created the music-story-performance piece, The Fate of the Children of Lir.

As a session musician, she has played on the soundtracks of several TV dramas, including Loving You and Blue Murder, as well as on Tourism Ireland's commission of W. B. Yeats' The Song of Wandering Aengus, featuring Michael Gambon.

Judith Hooper | writer

Having worked as a linguist in the record industry, and then as a musician and music therapist, in 2012 Judith undertook a course in autobiographical and biographical writing with the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education, entitled Writing Lives. She loved the course and was inspired by its teaching, and went on to publish an article in The Scottish Banner (about her Scottish childhood) and two in SEN Magazine (about her experiences as a mother of a child with disabilities) - 'The Difficult Parent' has been used extensively in trainings of professionals to better understand parents. Her review of Sally Magnusson's book, Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything, was published in the Oxford Psychotherapy Society’s Bulletin. Her articles on her family’s involvement with the Cerebra Sleep Service are published on the Cerebra website.

In 2021 Judith was delighted to be asked to contribute to the work of the editorial team of, and to contribute materials and case studies for, the Teacher Handbook: SEND (publ. 2022).

Judith has published under her maiden name, Henderson, as well as her married name, Hooper. She likes to write short, focused pieces, examples of which can be read here. She is grateful to her daughter Rose for her permission to write about her; Judith's perspectives have evolved and metamorphosed over the years, and her writing represents snapshots in time, illustrative of life as it seemed in that moment. She hopes you enjoy her patchwork of tales, thoughts and musings, and will post additional pieces of writing here in due course.

Judith Hooper | lecturer

Judith has given seminars/teaching sessions at Oxford Brookes University and in the music therapy department at Roehampton University. She has also given workshops in schools and healthcare settings, as well as talks to members of the WI and at the renowned Wootton Talks. She presented at the 2002 World Congress of Music Therapy in Oxford, and in 2023 co-led a workshop with Tessa Watson entitled ‘What are Carers Carrying’, at the University of Roehampton’s conference ‘Co-Producing Professional Healthcare Education: how do we all work together?’.

Her current focus of interest for seminars and talks is her experience as a parent of a child with disabilities, having previously been a member of professional teams as a music therapist, and the perspective gained from being on both ‘sides of the table’. She has given teaching sessions on this theme since 2013 at Roehampton University, and has given presentations at SEND-focussed teacher training days since 2018. Materials and case studies that she developed for the Roehampton teaching sessions have been published in the Teacher Handbook: SEND (publ. 2022).

Judith is a member of the Roehampton University Service User and Carer Partnership, and is deeply committed to her resulting involvement with the arts therapies, counselling and nursing courses at Roehampton. She has been delighted to have been invited since 2019 to sit on validation and approval panels for nursing and related courses at Roehampton University, in the role of Service User and Carer representative.

Judith is happy to share her thoughts about, and reflections on, the carer experience with anyone who will listen, and has been conducting informal research in this area for many years, including interviews with fellow carers. She is in the foothills of working on a book on the subject of the emotional experiences of carers, intended for healthcare professionals in training, in order to equip them with enhanced understanding before they enter their chosen professions.