The cool kids? They’re in the band

Tereasa Payne was supposed to play her piccolo in the orchestra for “The Lion King” on Broadway last night.

Instead she flew to Sioux Falls, S.D., because her old band director is retiring.

Since 1989, Dr. Bruce Ammann has been telling the musicians at Augustana University when they struck an incorrect note, while reminding them they’re doing a good job, the Argus Leader notes today.

He was conducting his final concert at Augustana last night when, after the final number, he turned to the crowd and asked them to applaud his students.

While his back was turned, 28-years of band alumnae took the musicians’ spots.

Ammann laughed, a smile stretched wide below his white mustache. He raised his baton to hoots and hollers from the band.

“Watch out for the 5/8 bar,” shouted one band member in the type of joke that’s only really funny to musicians.

Then, with the professional decorum well-known by his students, he waved the baton once more and the famous “Washington Post March” by John Philip Sousa rang through the theater with a jovial resonance reflected on Ammann’s face.

“I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without him,” Payne said.

“He instilled such a love of music that we keep playing,” Vicki Kerkvliet said. She was part of Ammann’s first band.

“They mean as much to me as I mean to them,” Ammann told the newspaper. “This was a surprise I will never forget. It’s a testament to what music and the arts can do.”