Melanie Lawson Kareem is the Founder and Creative Director of Get Started Playing Ukulele, an international network of good-hearted folk who embrace the joy of ukulele in daily, live, virtual lessons. Melanie’s proprietary teaching materials and methods simplify and expedite the learning process. Students with no previous musical experience are strumming and singing right away! More experienced players collaborate together at an intermediate-level and rehearse for shows. Adapting to the challenges of the pandemic, Melanie’s classes went virtual, and she has provided ukulele instruction and camaraderie to pandemic-weary people for 450 days straight. Many folk dancers find it a natural extension of their musicality to pick up a ukulele. That was the case for Melanie, who grew up in a folk dancing family. Raised in Pasadena, California, the Lawsons were knit together by music, song and dance. Melanie established her first School of Middle Eastern Dance before the age of twenty, and developed it over decades into a legendary multi-generational belly dance tradition, based in Topanga Canyon. After her father’s passing in 2015, Melanie answered the call to continue Chuck Lawson’s legacy of creating ukulele instruction for friends and neighbors who had never been musicians. This lead naturally to many multi-aged community ukulele performances in Topanga Canyon under the name “Topanga Ukulele Revival.” Melanie’s community of fun-loving ukulele students now stretches from coast to coast, and crosses international borders.