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Groove of the Month: Ray's Triplets by Sean J. Kennedy

Feb 21, 2022, 09:00 AM by Rhythm Scene Staff

While in high school, I had the opportunity to study with a great drum set and percussion teacher: Ray Deeley, Bobby Rydell’s first touring drummer and a staff drummer at the legendary Cameo/Parkway record label. On top of his busy performance schedule throughout the United States, performing with top acts such as Frank Sinatra, he was a very active teacher in Philadelphia and South Jersey. The longer I play and teach, the more I can see his influence in my formative years coming through in my teaching style. He was an “old school” teacher who focused on fundamentals (e.g., books by Stone, Harr, Chapin, Goldenberg, etc.), but he was also keenly aware of the ability of modern players and was always a student himself, whether that be in checking out some hot young Latin drummers in the city or listening to the latest Neil Peart drum solo.

The groove I included here is a swing fill that Deeley taught me. It is one of the most useful patterns that I ever learned to play. If there were a book of swing rudiments, this would be at the top:

Rays Triplets

As you practice getting this exercise under control, keep the following in mind: (1) make sure to feather pedal the bass drum on all four beats, imitating an upright bass playing a walking bass line; (2) make sure that the hi-hat is rock solid on beats 2 and 4 with a clean “chick” sound; (3) do not over emphasize either the right or left hand, and instead strive for an even dialogue between both limbs; (4) most importantl,y TAKE YOUR TIME. Always practice at a speed at which you can perform comfortably and create music. Never sacrifice the groove!

Here are a couple of bonus variations on Ray's Triplets:

Rays Triplets Variations

Sean KennedySean J. Kennedy
is the drummer for The Doc Severinsen Tribute Band and has been principal percussionist with the Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale since 2004. He has performed on drumset and percussion with such world-renowned acts as Il Volo, Roger Daltry and The Who, Evanescence, Lindsey Stirling, The Philly POPS! Orchestra, The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, The Jacksonville Symphony, and The Allentown Band. Kennedy was appointed to the PAS Drum Set Committee in 2021, is the author of numerous drum set, percussion, and improv books, and in 2018 was invited to present a TEDx Talk about the history of the drumset, titled “Happy Accidents: Drumming Up Serendipity.” More information about Sean is available at

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