Disney’s animated children’s series Bluey has taken the world of children’s programming by storm. The series is beloved by preschoolers and older children, as well as their older siblings, parents, grandparents, and others. Some fans of the show even admit to watching it despite the fact that they are not yet parents.
There are a number of things to love about Bluey, and now, experts have identified a huge surprise benefit that comes from watching the animated series all about the adventures of the Heeler family.
‘Bluey’ is a One-of-a-Kind Treasure
When it comes to children’s programming, there are a number of television shows that fit the bill. But over time, most of those programs start to run together as the majority of them include an obligatory sing-along, various ways of learning the alphabet, run-of-the-mill approaches to modeling appropriate social skills, and then, of course, the less-than-thrilling conclusion and recap of “everything we’ve learned today!”
Not so with Disney’s Bluey.
The animated Australian children’s show was commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the BBC and debuted in 2018 in Australia as the brainchild of Aussie animator Joe Brumm, who was intrigued by the animated series Peppa Pig, which centers around a British family of pigs.
Brumm thought there should be something similar for the kids Down Under.
The end result is a children’s series unlike any other–one in which there are no alphabets, no numbers, no reading, writing, or counting, and no corny presentation of the way we should conduct ourselves in relation to others. Rather, the delightful Bluey series tells the everyday stories of the Heeler family: Bluey, her sister Bingo, and her mum and dad, Chilli and Bandit.
The Benefits That Come From Watching ‘Bluey’
The series draws viewers in for many reasons, depending on their ages and whether or not they have children yet, and the benefits and takeaways that come from watching Bluey are as numerous and varied as the people who watch the show.
This week, however, experts have shared a huge “surprise benefit” that comes from taking in episodes of the fan-favorite series about the Heelers.
In addition to the absence of letters, numbers, reading, and counting in episodes of Bluey, viewers will also notice another glaring absence–that of a musical number written to reinforce whatever “lesson” is being shared in the episode. Unlike many children’s educational shows, Bluey doesn’t include any songs aimed at the audience to double down on the message of the episode.
Rather, when it comes to musical offerings in the animated series, the creators of Bluey are far more subtle, opting instead to allow background melodies to set the mood of the episode and reinforce the message–all without any words at all. And Bluey gets bonus points as a majority of those background melodies include classical pieces by the great composers Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Beethoven, and others.
And according to experts, watching Bluey might just get kids into the world of classical music.
‘Bluey’ and Classical Music: A Surprise Benefit
Per Fatherly, Disney’s Bluey has been exposing viewers to modernly-tuned classical music since its debut, and though including classical music in an animated series isn’t a new idea, Bluey just seems to do it differently–and possibly better, too:
From the very first episode, Bluey was exposing kids to classical Western compositions, tuned differently for modern ears. In season 1’s “The Magic Xylophone,” Mozart’s “Rondo Alla Turca” plays throughout the episode, the final movement of the German composer’s Piano Sonata No. 11.
While it may not have initially started as an intentional choice to include classical music in other episodes, it quickly turned into a trend that continues deep into the third season, and likely beyond into future seasons.
Bluey isn’t breaking new ground here, but it is keeping an animation tradition alive and well. Classical music has been a major part of kids’ animation for nearly a hundred years, beginning with early Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons. The difference then was the choice to use these pieces had less to do with increasing a child’s musical vocabulary and more to do with budgets.
The Use of Classical Music in ‘Bluey’ is Genius
The ways in which the classical pieces are used in episodes of Bluey has been hailed as “one of the most effective implementations of the genre since cartoons first started [making use of it].”
Fatherly recounts various uses of the genre across multiple episodes of Bluey:
Pachelbel’s Canon in D is a standout from the first season’s “The Claw,” a whimsical choice to Bandit’s mistake of becoming a claw machine to teach the kids a life lesson no one asked for. Bingo went on a magical rampage with her “Featherwand” accompanied by Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” and later learned to play by herself in “Bingo” to the tune of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 16.
Even Muffin got in on the classical music fun during season three’s “Faceytalk,” turning Bizet’s famous opera “Carmen” into a mischievous dash through the house while escaping from her dad. One of my favorites is from “Ice Cream,” with Bluey and Bingo attempting futilely to lick each other’s ice cream cones as they rapidly melt, played to Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers.”
Another first-season episode, “Bike,” uses a familiar Beethoven piece from his ninth symphony, “Ode to Joy.” The song is a perfect mirror to the episode, as the different kids in the park overcome their struggles to succeed.
Per Bluey composer Joff Bush, the piece helps to tell the story of the episode.
“The episode’s score mimics a student slowly learning the piece before bursting out into a full ‘orchestral’ version for the climax when everything goes right,” he explained. “This follows the themes of learning and achievement that the episode focuses on.”
A piece of music by composer Gustav Holst, which was written in 1918, is featured in the #2 most popular episode of Bluey, titled “Sleepytime.” The piece consists of seven sections, each one named for a planet in the solar system. Not only was it used in the Bluey episode, but it also inspired the score for Star Wars and various rock songs by Black Sabbath.
The Benefits of Introducing Children to Classical Music
According to experts on the subject, classical music serves many purposes in addition to being a piece of history. Listening to classical music can reduce children’s stress levels and boost their moods. It can even improve their memory. And who better to introduce little ones to classical music than Bluey herself?
“One of the things we see in Bluey is the number of kids who’re getting into classical music because they’re seeing it through, not in the light of we have to sit down and be really quiet in a concert, but in the light of, ‘Oh, this could mean this; this could be fun,” explained composer Joff Bush.
Isn’t it nice to know that while little ones are enjoying episodes of Bluey, seeing social skills modeled, and learning about what it means to be part of a family, that they’re also being introduced to a musical genre that can benefit them in so many ways? It’s just one more thing to love about Disney’s Bluey.