Chances are, one of your favorite tracks features a Moog synthesizer. In fact, if you’ve watched the hit Netflix series Stranger Things, you heard Moog synthesizers all over the soundtrack. Without this innovation in sound, music wouldn’t be what we know and love today. And the person we have to thank is Bob Moog.
Of course, most people in Asheville have heard the name Moog. From Moogfest to the Moog Music Factory on Broadway, the city is proud to boast the name. What many people are just discovering, though, is the Bob Moog Foundation, founded by Michelle Moog-Koussa, daughter of the legend. Thanks to the Moogseum, which opened its doors this year, locals and tourists alike can now learn all about his legacy and how it’s still making a difference in our community today.
Michelle founded The Bob Moog Foundation, a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit, in an effort to continue her father’s work and made a difference. The mission: to ignite creativity at the intersection of music, science, history and innovation.
“The idea to start a foundation came when my father was ill and passed away. I don’t think we would have made a foundation if it hadn’t been for that. My father wasn’t the kind of person who would have set up a foundation in his name,” Michelle says.
When Bob fell ill, a CaringBridge account was set up in his name so his friends and family could call and leave messages of support. One day, the login information became public knowledge, and after trying to keep strangers out of the messages, they gave up the fight and let people offer their words of support, encouragement and gratitude.
“The day he passed away, 20,000 people logged onto CaringBridge. People left testimonials about how much he’d transformed their lives. Until then, we didn’t know the true breadth and depth of his impact as far as changing so many people’s lives. And that was truly the genesis. The Bob Moog Foundation was created to continue to inspire people the way Bob did.”
It does this in three different ways.
Dr. Bob’s Sound School is an interactive classroom experience, bringing the wonders of sound, science and creativity to second grade children and their teachers, who learn the curriculum from someone within the nonprofit. This program started in six classrooms in Asheville City Schools and has since expanded to more than 100 across Asheville City and Buncombe County schools.
“We teach about 3,000 kids in the Asheville area about the science of sound," Michelle says. "We’re really proud of that program and gratified that it’s meant so much to the kids, teachers and even the parents. We have parents who tell us, ‘My kid went through Dr. Bob’s sound school, and it’s the most excited I’ve ever seen them about school.’"
The 10-lesson curriculum combines both state and national educational standards with the foundation’s own experiential and experimental approach to learning. Through this, kids learn how sound is made, how it’s heard and how it travels. Ultimately, Dr. Bob’s Sound School opens a whole new world of creative discovery for children to carry with them through their academic and personal pursuits.
The Bob Moog Foundation also inspires through a historical archive, found online and in the Moogseum.
“The Moogseum is the convergence of educational and historical preservation. We were intentional in creating a space that’s both immersive and highly interactive as a way to inspire,” Michelle says.
The Moogseum is the newest addition to the foundation and is meant to foster creativity and discovery for all those who visit. Michelle is adamant that even if you’re not a “music person,” you’ll find something to get excited about in the Moogseum. In fact, it’s often the people who don’t think the space was created for them who leave most excited about what they’ve learned.
The Moogseum is located on Broadway Street downtown, and it’s highly interactive with some truly incredible pieces of memorabilia. In fact, the Moog prototype is housed there for a limited time and is an extraordinary piece of history that was loaned from Detroit-based museum The Henry Ford. From pieces like the prototype to interactive theremins and hands-on synthesis education, the Moogseum was built for everyone.
It’s no doubt that building a foundation of this scale takes an enormous amount of inspiration.
Asked who inspires her, Michelle responded, “My main source of inspiration is my father, and it’s not just his legacy itself, which I continue to find awe-inspiring because it was so revolutionary, but because as I learn more and more about him I realize how many challenges he had in his work. And some of them were extreme challenges, where he almost lost his business, and those kinds of things happened more than once. The more I learned, the more I found his persistence and commitment remarkable. Someone else might have given up, and I understand why someone would have done that, but my father never did. That has inspired me in this work because this hasn’t always been easy work. He’s definitely my No. 1 source of inspiration.
“I am so fortunate. This job is amazing with an amazing amount of opportunities. I love meeting all these luminaries, like Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock, and we’re working on a documentary and books, and we have this amazing museum, but it’s still the kids. That’s the highlight for me.
"Working with children is a really profound source of inspiration. I feel like that’s where we can make the most difference in the world right now. I’m often very troubled by the state of the world, and sometimes so troubled I find it overwhelming, and I just have to push it to the side. But what I have committed myself to is focusing on where I can make a difference, and that’s with the kids. That’s how we’re going to affect future generations. That, to me, is a life’s work.”
The Bob Moog Foundation brings color to our already rich community, and any support is greatly appreciated. The foundation is not associated with Moog Music Inc., nor does it receive any financial assistance from it. The best way to support the effort to inspire is to make a donation, visit the Moogseum and spread the word about all the work they’re doing to ignite inspiration and discovery. To learn more, visit MoogFoundation.org.