Rock Island’s Ridgewood School outdoor music lab highlighted by U.S. State Department

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A U.S. State Department website featured the outdoor music lab at Rock Island’s Ridgewood Elementary School in a story on America moving outside during the pandemic.

A Rock Island elementary school’s outdoor music lab has drawn national attention.

ShareAmerica — the U.S. Department of State’s platform for communicating American foreign policy worldwide — on Monday included Ridgewood Elementary School’s recent outdoor music lab in a piece on how American daily life has moved more outdoors during COVID.

“We share compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics…,” according to The new feature says, “From karate to yoga, Americans are doing more outside than ever before…and loving it.”

The story highlights Mara Goodvin’s music students playing outdoors on xylophones and drums. Notes from contrabass chimes — large metal tubes permanently mounted on 2.4-meter-tall poles — reverberated through the air. It described how Goodvin would play a rhythm, and the students would play it back, outside the school at 9607 14th St., Rock Island.

“What’s really great about having all these instruments out there is that they’re really for everyone,” says Goodvin, who hopes to expand the music lab from five instruments today to 14 instruments down the road. “The neighborhood seems really excited to explore it. People come by and play them pretty much every day.”

ShareAmerica is the U.S. State Department’s platform for communicating compelling stories that spark discussion.

ShareAmerica is managed by the Bureau of Global Public Affairs within the U.S. Department of State. The Dec. 27 story notes that some pandemic pushes to get outside have had nothing to do with play but everything to do with work. “Companies like Apple and Nike, as well as smaller firms and even apartment building owners, are creating places for their employees and residents to do their jobs outside,” the piece says.

Goodvin, the Ridgewood general music teacher, told Local 4 on Dec. 2 (when the music lab first opened): “We’ve had neighborhood friends and parents comment, saying on the weekends — when they were installed last weekend — there were so many families over here making music and and creating their own music in this manner.”

The project was funded through donations, and the school says the music lab will be used for both teaching and creative play.

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