Melena's formal training began on the drums when she was a teenager. Master percussionist Luis Conte was instrumental in shaping her early development. In 1988, Melena returned to Cuba for the first time since leaving as a child. While in Cuba, Melena studied with the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba. She has also studied with the legendary percussionists and folklorists Mario Jauregui, Regino Jimenez and Lazaro Ros. This experience gave her a solid foundation, offering her a unique sound which is distinctly her own.
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