A student named Lisa Brookins asked me during a recent office hours session, “How do you do the Figure 8 or circular bowing?” To be honest, I hadn’t even heard the term. So I went and watched a video by Bruce Molsky, learned it, and practiced it. The same thing that you and other amazing FiddleHed students do…

I’m now working on a more in-depth lesson on this with progressive exercises. Stay tuned…📻

This micro-lesson is an excerpt from an office hours webinar I gave on April 14, 2020.

The basic exercise…

The video explains this better than I can with words. But here’s a simple exercise you can do to get started.

Bow down on open D, then up on open A. Loop on this. Once it flows, watch your right hand. Observe that it moves in a circle. See if you can smooth out the curves of the circle. Observe that it moves in a circle. See if you can smooth out the curves of the circle.

Now let’s turn that into a figure 8. We will simply play open D followed by open A in a down bow, and then do the same thing in an up bow.

Down: D0-A0, Up: D0-A0

Voilà! (That’s French for “Voilà” 🤪)

Here’s a slightly more challenging step, using the slur 3 bowing:

Down: D0-A0-D0, Up: D0-A0-D0

Master these exercises, then add left-hand fingers. Eventually, try on scales, tune phrases, and whole melodies.

I experimented with adding this bowing to Mary Had A Little Lamb. Side note: even the most beginner tune can be a source of learning and creativity. Don’t write off simple, tried, and true melodies…


View this post on Instagram


I just learned something called the figure 8 bow pattern. Trying it out on a simple melody: Mary had a little lamb. I’m working from the new studio in Los Angeles. It’s a nice space but still in the moving in stage. But it’s great to have a space to work in, very grateful 🙏

A post shared by FiddleHed (@fiddlehed) on

Further learning

Two ways I can help you level up your fiddling

  1. Sign up for the FiddleHed newsletter below.
  2. Sign up for the Free Two-week Trial. You’ll get full access to all courses and group lessons. Plus, I’ll send you some free lessons tailored to your current skill level.

Thanks for being here 🙏

Return to Fiddle Questions >>

Return To Top Of Appalachian Fiddle >>

Leave a Reply

3 responses to “How do you do circular bowing?