Courses  Instructors  How It Works Plans & Pricing Blog Resources 

Log In

Log In 
Don't have an account? Sign Up

Reset Password

An email has been sent with instructions on how to reset your password.

Sign Up For Free

Then join a course

Our store is currently undergoing maintenance. Check back in a few hours.
Already have an account? Log In

Cello Lesson: Bluegrass Bowing Techniques


In the classical music tradition, how a player approaches their technique on stringed instruments such as the violin, viola, and cello is very rigid and specific. A player’s bowing technique, in particular, is tremendously calculated and must follow a distinct set of guidelines. When placed in the context of other genres, however, string players have the freedom to explore other bowing techniques that are often more experimental and less ubiquitous among musicians.


In this online cello lesson, Grammy Award-winning cellist and ArtistWorks instructor, Mike Block teaches a few unconventional cello bowing techniques specifically designed to assist in performing rhythmic passages commonly heard in bluegrass. He also provides a few cello bowing exercises to help you refine these techniques and easily incorporate them into your playing.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play the cello from a master musician like Mike Block? Try some free online cello lessons now!


Unlike classical music, bluegrass music heavily emphasizes the backbeat, which gives bluegrass its very distinct feel and musical energy. The backbeat consists of beats two and four within a measure of music, as opposed to the downbeat, which refers to beats one and three. As bluegrass does not commonly emphasize the downbeat, the common bowing techniques utilized by classical cellists need to be altered to accommodate the unique qualities of bluegrass rhythm.


“One fundamental bowing pattern that’s commonly used in both classical and bluegrass genres is called the shuffle pattern,” Mike explains. “However, the way we approach this shuffle pattern and where we place emphasis when we’re bowing is completely different depending on the style of music we’re playing. This all has to do with whether or not we’re emphasizing the downbeat or the backbeat.”


If you’re a classically trained cellist, learning to place emphasis on the backbeat when playing a shuffle pattern rather than the downbeat may feel a bit uncomfortable at first. But, have no fear, this will quickly become second nature to you. Remember to have patience and be kind to yourself as you work out the intricacies of the altered rhythmic pattern.


“The key to playing bluegrass groove is filling in the subdivisions and having fun with the accents,” Mike explains. “But, these fundamental grooves, the shuffle and the push are going to underpin everything.”


To learn more about bluegrass bowing rhythms and how to implement them into your cello playing, dive into this online cello lesson from Mike Block:


Bluegrass Bowing Techniques with Mike Block:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play the cello? Through our comprehensive cello lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Mike Block, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Mike’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner cello to advanced performance techniques, classic popular songs in a variety of genres and styles, improvisation, music theory, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as cellists and musicians.


Try out some free sample music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Mike Block Releases New Album, Machines That Fly

Darol Anger Jams with Bronwyn Keith-Hynes

Bluegrass Mandolin Lesson: Learning Your Chord Scales with Sierra Hull




Affordable Plans

Each subscription is for a single school. Pricing and features can vary slightly per school.

1 Month membership
renews monthly
Unlimited Access to Lessons
Unlimited Video Exchanges
Exclusive Content
$35/month (prepaid)
3 Month membership
renews every 3 months
Unlimited Access to Lessons
Unlimited Video Exchanges
Exclusive Content
$30/month (prepaid)
12 Month membership
renews every 12 months
Unlimited Access to Lessons
Unlimited Video Exchanges
Exclusive Content
$20/month (prepaid)