Bluey’s third season is starting on Disney+ tomorrow. I checked online, and it is happening. I saw an article from Disney+ themselves so it must be true. I am actually quite excited about it and have been looking forward to having a new season of Bluey to watch for a while now. I’m not sure if it has actually happened before that as an adult I have been anticipating the start of a new series of a children’s cartoon. I mean, I loved Hey Duggee and Tee and Mo, and was always happy when there were new episodes to watch but I’m not sure I was actively looking forward to a new series.
In case you don’t already know it, Bluey is an Australian cartoon series about a family of Heeler dogs. Bluey and her sister Bingo live with their parents, Bandit and Chilli and the cartoon is about their life. They don’t have extraordinary lives, or powers, they do ordinary things, like get take out, or play pretend, or try to sleep in a house with small people who get out of bed regularly. The children mostly get on very well, but sometimes fight and they are neither really badly behaved or overly moralistic. The parents are the sorts of parents you wish you could be with your children. They all have a lot of fun together and I think Bandit enjoys the games at least as much as the children, if not more so. It’s just lovely.
Bluey has sparked a lot of imaginative play in my children as well. They have often played games they have seen on Bluey – we play Neighbours a lot, and they often become the Grannies! It’s a lovely cartoon and well worth a watch.
Now, hang on a minute, you may be thinking, this is a blog about getting kids into music not into Australian cartoons no matter how good they may be. Why are you writing about this here? Well, the answer is that Bluey is absolutely full of music. All TV shows and films are full of music, and children’s TV has a lot of musical content I grant you. But Bluey uses music so very well, Probably better than many other cartoons. I think music is central to the show – it would simply not be the same show if it weren’t for the music that is played in it. And either the musical style used changes to suit the episode, or each episode is shaped very much by the music that is featured in the show. Music isn’t incidental to the story in Bluey, but is actually part of the story. And they put a lot of Western Classical music repertoire (with a big C, to indicate all music that is not pop, jazz, r&b etc) into the programme, so it’s a great one for introducing your child to a lot of Classical music and helping them become familiar with it, maybe even love it.
One episode that very much sticks in mind when thinking about the way that Classical music is so integral to the story is Sleepytime from Season 2, where Bingo has a dream that she and her favourite bunny toy have an adventure together out in space. The episode is very relatable (and funny), as both of the children wake up for various reasons and they all swap beds, or get pushed out of bed a number of times through the night. I know we have had nights in our house where the children have had bad dreams, or not been well, and everyone has ended up in the morning in a different bed than the one they went to sleep in! Accompanying this night time adventure is the music of composer Gustav Holst with his Planets Suite – of course, given that Bingo and her bunny are off out in space, that is exactly the piece of music for this episode. And the music not only fits the episode, but it makes it what it is. Watch and you will see what I mean.
The episode Featherwand is an altogether different episode. Much more playful and fun. In this episode the children use a feather that appears to have magical powers that make everything they point to really heavy. Bandit and Chilli try to get jobs done at home, but it proves impossible for them as the magic Featherwand is used against them. In this episode, that playful atmosphere is created just as much by featuring the work of composer Edvard Grieg with his piece Hall of the Mountain King. Again, it’s the perfect piece for this episode, creates exactly the right atmosphere for it, and the music is very much a feature of the show.
Then there are episodes which use music much more blatantly, like Dance Mode, the first episode of Season 2, where Bluey’s parents have to dance when dance mode is switched on by one of the children swinging their parents’ tails, no matter where they are – it may be crossing the road, it may be in a queue in a shop, it doesn’t matter. If dance mode is activated, they must dance. Or Magic Xylophone, the very first episode, where a magic xylophone has the power to make one of the Heeler family freeze until someone else uses the magic xylophone to unfreeze them. This episode actually starts with Bandit playing the piano using Bingo as his piano. He plays Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca accompanied by lots and lots of giggles (my children have asked me to play this with them numerous times, and they both always want to be the piano). Bingo wants to join in, but instead of being a piano, Bingo becomes the bongo drums. Bingo is looking for their real bongo drums when she finds the magic xylophone, and the Rondo Alla Turca becomes the soundtrack to the episode.
Getting your children to listen to a lot of different music, and sneaking in a lot of Classical music for your children to hear in a show like Bluey is an absolutely fantastic way to get them to enjoy, maybe even love music. To see how joyful and fun it can be, to associate it with something they really want to watch. Then if you play that piece at home at any time they will already be familiar with it, and may already love it. They may even ask for you to play that music from Bluey. It’s a bit like, if you will pardon the analogy, getting your children to eat hidden veg sauce. Maybe.
In any case, I am very much looking forward to seeing what season 3 brings and I will absolutely be watching it, not all of it, but a good few episodes, when it is released tomorrow. Season 3 will be aired in two parts, it is the first half that will be released tomorrow, and the second half later in the year.
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