Sidney Fortner working with students at Greco Middle School’s.Instruments of Change Summer Band Camp.

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” — Bono, lead vocalist of the rock band U2.

Valrico resident Sidney Fortner has played music all over the world through a career in the military and service in his community. His years of serving others through music have touched innumerable lives.

“There is beauty in the comfort that music can bring. Music tells a story. That’s the biggest thing,” Fortner said.

An accomplished musician, Fortner’s story involves a dedication to serve others through music. He learned to read music while playing the piano in third grade. He graduated with a music degree in Georgia from Columbus State University. For 22 years, Fortner was a trombonist in the United States Army Band. He was stationed in Germany, Korea, South Korea and Georgia. He played for over 100 performances in 45 days to deployed troops in Bosnia. He was the operational supervisor who would send a band out for funerals for soldiers.

He played for notable people including presidents. In 1984, he played for Ronald Regan on the 40th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, aka D-Day. He played again for Reagan when he delivered his Berlin Wall Speech in 1987. He also played for Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago.

Fortner retired from the military after 22 years, but he could not stop serving others with music. He is a band director for local nonprofit Instruments of Change, the music director and pianist at First United Methodist Church of Seffner and the band director at Clair Mel and Colson elementary schools.

Fortner’s unique experience serving others through music is ongoing.

One of Fortner’s current investments is being a guitar instructor at the nonprofit No Fret Guitar Camp. Camp director Gary Brosch is incredibly grateful for Fortner’s continued passion to serve others through music.

“Sid is an amazing individual who recognizes the importance of music to young folks not only for our enjoyment but for all the benefits music brings. Many studies have shown music helps kids with stress, anxiety, social skills, discipline and even math. Sid proves you don’t have to be young and hip — no offense Sid — to work with youth who really do respect sincere adults who they know only want the best for them,” Brosch said.

“I just play. I enjoy knowing it, I enjoy entertaining and I use music to help people. Music really changes the lives of people,” Fortner said.

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