I love arranging a song mash for ukulele and guitar! Mashing two unlikely songs together can create a new perspective on both songs. Here are some examples from the Chicks with Picks Melbourne Ukulele and Guitar Repertoire


  • ‘Somebody I used to know’(Gotye) and ‘Come as you are’ (Nirvana)
  • ‘Zombie’(Cranberries) and ‘The Butterfly’ (Trad. Slip Jig)
  • ‘Overkill’ (Men at Work) and ‘Drowsie Maggie’ (Trad. Reel)
  • ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ (Trad) and ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ (Savage Garden)


What two songs would you like to hear put together?


If you’d like to join a ukulele/guitar group and play some new song mashes in 2022 or find out about our Melbourne Summer School, drop me a line at or private message me.






It’s lovely to be out of lockdown and facilitating face to face lessons again. I’d forgotten how much joy and deep connection I experience playing music with students in live sessions. Now that we’re emerging from lockdown, I’m starting to dream of new musical possibilities for teaching and writing and playing in 2022.
I’m dreaming of our lovely, connected private lessons and groups back to together again, playing in studios, lounge rooms and festivals, making new musical friends and growing established musical friendships.
I’m dreaming of taking students to new levels of group playing complete with rhythm and lead playing, bass lines, percussion and harmony singing.
For myself, I’m dreaming of writing new songs for a new show, performing with my friends at music festivals around Australia, sitting by campfires strumming songs with old friends, and discovering more about the guitar, the ukulele and song writing and passing those discoveries onto Chicks with Picks Melbourne students.
What are your musical dreams for 2022?
Yours in strumming,



The last 18 months of Chicks with Picks Melbourne has been a challenge. But, we’ve made it through four lockdowns and into our fifth. I’ve learned to change tack really quickly and can now offer classes online via Zoom as well as live – when we can. Lately we’ve been diving into quiet folk songs such as At 17 by Janis Ian, Let her Go by Passenger and a lovely version of Daydream Believer arranged by Renee and Jeremy.This week, I thought I’d mix it up with a kooky sidetrack into an old TV Theme song called The Fishin’ Hole. It’s a little bluegrassy and great for guitars and ukuleles.

I’ve been busy creating new online short courses – stay tuned for that – and have applied for the Melbourne ukulele festival – fingers crossed.

If you’re stuck in lockdown and would like to sign up for a few classes email Helen at The beauty of online learning is that you can be anywhere in the world. I hope you’re somewhere beautiful.

Yours in strumming,



 Chicks with Picks Melbourne is now offering guitar, ukulele and songwriting lessons online.

If you’re stuck at home looking at that neglected instrument in the corner and thinking, it might be time to while away some hours learning to strum some songs, drop us a line on our contact page.  We’re here to get you picking and strumming to your favourite songs from the comfort of your own home. 

Guitars Forever. Jenny Barrett, 2019

Guitars Forever. Jenny Barrett, 2019

I’m currently enjoying a Chicks with Picks time, but I first heard guitar at home in the 1950s when I was just 4 years old. I was transported by the sounds. My mother, Alice, had played electric guitar in dance bands and at parties in Melbourne during WW2.  When raising us three kids and running a business with Dad, she often played at home – for her own fun as well as for parties. Alice had great musical intuition and loved making music all her life. I recall the lazy Sunday afternoons in the warmth of the loungeroom … the sounds her picks and slide made on that ‘steel guitar’ on her lap with its electric pick-up and her sturdy little amplifier by her side are keys in the original soundscape of my childhood.  

No prizes for guessing who bought me my first guitar for my 17th birthday, a ¾ Yamaha acoustic. I still have that guitar and always will, although it suffers from too many parties, multiple house moves and camping trips and the wrong (steel) strings. But strumming away on that guitar with my high school friend Sally on her bongos with her magical singing voice … that was the best! We did stuff like Dinah Lees’ “I’m Walkin’” and “Don’t Ya Know Yockomo” and early Beatles. Later I had a nice Epiphone that was a real friend for strumming and crooning old and new American folk songs during an alone period in my 20s, the guitar and the Collie dog my cosy companions. I have bought and sold or lost other guitars (and dogs) along the way and now play a comfortable small-body acoustic Blueridge.

I’m now retired and having confronted the limitations of the C/F/G/Am strumming that I learned from my teenage rock star boyfriend, I’m taking lessons. I love that Helen Begley offers Chicks with Picks for women to enjoy the guitar together. We cover an eclectic range of pieces and techniques and can choose to pursue pieces of interest. I’ve given up trying to play barre chords and regret not having worked harder to master the technique when my fingers were stronger and nimble. But I love that the guitar is so forgiving.  

I play just for myself, often losing myself in the pleasure and the satisfaction of making music and making progress. Still, during my guitar practice sessions, I treasure an occasional cheer from my husband in appreciation of the musical accompaniment to his writing sessions. Most reliable though is during my usual late afternoon practice sessions, my otherwise busy young Australian Terrier reclines with head rested on the carpeted first stair near by, a perfectly contented and uncritical audience. 

Jenny Barrett, 2019