Tapping on the desk, annoying his teachers, was the start of a chart-topping career for drummer Ben Thompson.
The 27-year-old from Worthing has played in front of 80,000 people at Glastonbury with Two Door Cinema Club and has toured the US, Asia and Africa over the past eight years.
But it was at the age of nine, while he was a pupil at Sompting Abbotts School, that his love of music began and his talent was honed with the help of his music teachers.
Ben said: “Sompting Abbotts encouraged me to perform. Then, as now, it was a big part of school life to perform in assemblies and concerts and that really helped me not be nervous.”
He took a break from his busy life as a professional drummer and in-demand session musician for big names the world over to pay a return visit to the school and talk to current pupils about their hopes and dreams.
Ben told the children it was both grounding and wonderful to return to Sompting Abbotts.
“Coming back to the school and being back here in the assembly room that I first performed in brings you back to earth,” he said.
“It’s crazy to think that aged nine, I was performing in front of parents and now I play in front of 80,000 people at Glastonbury.
“Even with TV performances, I don’t get spooked playing in front of people. I put much of that down to what I learned at a young age here at Sompting Abbotts about performing.”
Ben has played locally with Sussex band Murdoch’s Crazy Eyes but it is his drumming with award-winning Indie rock band Two Door Cinema Club that has turned him into an international musician.
Staff at Sompting Abbotts said it was wonderful to have such an amazing glimpse into his life on the road, especially as it all started at the school, where he was a pupil from 2000 to 2005.
Ben said: “I was always tapping on the desk and irritating the teachers. I remember head of music Mrs Williamson suggesting I try some drum lessons. I thought she was joking but she wasn’t.”
Ben, who also learned piano and guitar at the school, urged the children to take up all the many opportunities the school offered to perform.
He said ‘the grounds, the relaxed vibe and the supportive teachers’ had had an amazing influence on his life and music.
“The school felt like a family – something that is very relevant to touring as I do,” he explained.
“In my job, you have to be family with the band and crew. You need the right social skills to get on with everyone – especially when you’re dealing with tour buses and crowded dressing rooms. I had those people skills and that family sense ingrained in me here.”
He said he felt nostalgic about the years spent at Sompting Abbotts and in future, when he had his own children, he would definitely want to send them there.
Ben admitted: “Sompting Abbotts is a magical place. I still come up sometimes in the summer to walk around the grounds and think. It is a hidden gem of a school.”
After leaving Sompting Abbotts, Ben enrolled at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute in Brighton and was quickly recognised as one of their best and brightest students while studying a diploma in drums.
He was catapulted into his professional drumming career at the age of 16. As he neared the end of his course, he was introduced to an agent by the head of drums and within a week, he was working for Two Door Cinema Club and touring the world.
Ben fulfilled another dream last year, setting up Manuka Bar & Kitchen in Worthing with his best friend Zachary Bimson-Szalai.
“It’s going very well and we’ve had some great reviews,” he said.
Ben is currently on tour in the States with rock band The Night Game and has several TV performances coming up, including the Ellen Show and James Corden.