Melena is not only a talented percussionist, but a graduate of UCLA with a B.A and M.A in Ethnomusicology. Her Masters thesis, "The Influence of Abakua Muisc in Cuban Rumba", is largely based on ethnograpchic fieldwork in Havana, Cuba during 2016 through 2018. She studied with scholars such as: Serafin "Tato" Quinones, Ramon Torres Zayas, Lino Neira, Jose "Pepe" Reyes Fortun, Frank Oropesa, Juan Campos "Chan" Cardenas, Pedrito Minocal Simba, Angel Guerrero amongst others. Melena graduated with honors June 15, 2018 and continues to be an advocate for the survival of African traditions in Cuba working closely with the community and members.
Melena offers Master Clases world-wide and has experience with all levels of musicianship, ages, as well as at risk youth and special needs children/ adults. She offers both group and individual classes. She is avaialble for one day or one week residencies, as well as a full quarter/semester class.
"This beautiful documentary features the talent of women pioneers who have paved the path for this present new generation of female bata players and the next geneeration to come. I greatly admire the talent and tenacity of these women who have inspired my growth as a percussionist and validate the presence of female talent today." Melena
As a Cuban percussionist and ethnomusicologist, Melena will be providing student's Cuban Music history and performance studies for a one week residency. In addition to teaching congas, batas and shekere, Melena will expand on the African diaspora in Cuba and the socio-cultural influences of the Afro Cuban heritages, rhythms, and their impact on popular Cuban music.