AJ Leonard and Jenny Rowlands made a great team at their recent workshop and concert at Samuel Gray’s. While Jenny was bopping along on the cello, AJ led us through an array of exercises involving a variety of strumming patterns and techniques. We tried a variation on the basic strum with a quick thumb upbeat followed by a downward fan stroke. We finger picked a simple riff to a twelve bar blues. We then moved on to playing a ballad rhythm with triplet downstrokes, octave slides and double stopping. Although it sounds very complicated AJ and Jenny did a great job of leading us through all this and the end result was fantastic. Finally we moved onto playing a bolero rhythm, D dud D dud (x2) then dud dud putting this strum into practice in the second verse of Ukulele Heaven. Apart from getting our heads around this complicated strumming pattern, we were also thrown in the deep end with some less familiar chords which were surprisingly easy to play if you could remember them!

Following the workshop, AJ and Jenny presented a short concert which included a medley of the Doors and an assortment of Christmas songs from their new album.

Both the workshop and the concert were extremely inspiring, and I learnt many new techniques to try out in the future. The combination of ukulele and cello was great. It was especially effective when Jenny played the cello like a double bass. Samuel Gray’s was an ideal venue for this event, and everybody seemed very happy with the new ideas they came away with from the workshop.

Salli Chmura