Music education major helps provide free testing for coronavirus

Music education major helps provide free testing for coronavirus

William Refuss (standing) working with CORE.
William Refuss (standing) working with CORE.
A s students were staying home and juggling last-minute coursework online last spring, senior music education major William Refuss of Fayetteville, Georgia, went a little further. He signed up to help test others for COVID-19. 

Refuss joined Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), a nonprofit providing free coronavirus testing in the greater Atlanta area. Donned in full PPE—personal protection equipment—he helped test thousands of people in Alpharetta—which has the highest volume of county-led testing in the country. 

Working with the organization and helping people get free coronavirus tests definitely gives me a sense of purpose in this unpredictable time, and I’ve gotten to interact with so many people from different backgrounds.
– Senior William Refuss

His experience in public health has opened new possibilities for the future. He enjoyed helping others and now has greater interest in community work. 

Music classes are where I’m happiest. They’ve served as a sanctuary from more pressing and rigorous academics, and I seek to give that same experience to students of the future.
– William Refuss
But the tug of music remains powerful too. Since high school, Refuss has learned from “exceptional” music teachers and that legacy has carried into college. He plays trombone and some euphonium, a brass instrument with a tenor sound.

Refuss has benefitted from the instruction of professors like Dr. David Johnson, who’s “incredibly gifted” and “shows great care toward his students;” Dr. Clifford Towner, who’s a wonderful band director with “great knowledge and experience;” and Dr. Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, who “encourages her students to think from multiple perspectives.” 

“Music classes are where I’m happiest,” Refuss said. “They’ve served as a sanctuary from more pressing and rigorous academics, and I seek to give that same experience to students of the future.”

Refuss came to Georgia College, following in the footsteps of multiple relatives, most notably his mother and grandmother. The small campus and city appealed to him, because he felt he could find “a sense of greater authenticity” here.

Refuss playing his trombone.
Refuss playing his trombone.

In addition to studying different educational philosophies and musical pedagogy, Refuss also went with the Georgia College Jazz Band on a study abroad trip to the Czech Republic last year. They visited several Czech cities like Czesky Krumlov, Kuks, Prague and Hradec Kralove. Students performed in concerts and walked miles in the countryside getting “an unfiltered view” of fields, rivers, statues and picturesque small towns. 

“My time in that country is some of the best moments of my life,” Refuss said. “Going abroad gives you a sense of perspective outside of that in which you’re familiar. Being in a different culture definitely makes you think about how everyone is different in a good way, and I believe it makes you a more critical thinker and more emotionally intelligent.”

Refuss is a member of the Gerogia College Wind Symphony, Jazz Band, Brass Ensemble and, occasionally, pep band. He’s also done improvisation jazz jams at Amici’s Italian Restaurant in Milledgeville. 

His time in college has helped Refuss become more independent and confident. 

The most important thing he’s learned is “everyone has a unique voice and perspective that must be heard.