They arrive, as kids will, in a clatter - laughing and chatting and thumping up the stairs to their upstairs rehearsal room at Olivet Baptist Church.
But as soon as director Carrie Taylor walks to the centre of the room and calls them to attention with a softly sung tone, they're all ears - and voices.
They're here to sing, and they're happy to do just that.
This is Vivo Children's Choir, where kids from grades 2 and up gather on Wednesdays to sing together and learn more about music from three professional directors.
They're led by the directorial team of Taylor, Anne Wilson Unger and Ingrid Verseveldt, all professional musicians and music teachers in various capacities, who've known each other since their days at the University of Victoria.
The idea for Vivo was born 10 years ago, when the three were raising their own young children.
"We all got talking about the fact that there was no place for our kids to sing," Wilson Unger recalls.
All three had a goal to start a non-auditioned choir so that every child, regardless of their musical experience or ability, would have a place to sing - and where no one would ever be told to "just mouth the words, dear."
Wilson Unger says that even now, adults will often reminisce to her about that time way back in elementary school when a teacher or choir director uttered those words to them.
"They remember very distinctly when they were told not to sing," she says.
That's exactly the opposite of what Vivo is trying to accomplish.
"Part of our mandate is that it's all-inclusive," Wilson Unger says.
And she notes that every year, they see success after success in getting kids singing - even those who are aren't naturals at it at the beginning of the year.
"There are kids that don't match pitch, and by the end of the year they can match pitch," she says, noting that it's rewarding for the directors to see the kind of growth that happens for the young singers.
Vivo is divided into three levels: Animoso, for grades 2 and 3; Bravura, for grades 4 and 5; and Concento, for grades 6 and above. There's no upper age limit for Vivo, but Wilson Unger notes that most kids tend to stay until about Grade 8 - by the time they get to high school, they're usually ready to move on to other challenges.
For those who stay with Vivo, there's plenty of opportunity for growth. At each level they learn more about singing, from the basics of producing good tone, matching pitch and singing with clear diction, to mastering more complex music in multiple parts and various languages. There's also a chamber choir group for those singers who want to take on extra challenges. Those students stay 20 minutes at the end of rehearsal to work on more complex music - a mix of more traditional, classical choral work and some from the popular vein.
Makaila Sherwood, an 11year-old Grade 6 student at Seaforth Elementary in Burnaby, is particularly hooked on chamber choir. She notes the singers are even allowed to suggest repertoire they'd like to sing.
"I like the really fun songs and the songs where you get to move and have fun," she says.
Twelve-year-olds Alison Fieber and Lisa Garrone agree.
"The songs are really fun," says Alison, who's in Grade 7 at John Knox Christian School.
"Especially chamber choir because we get to sing really fun songs," adds Lisa, who's a Grade 7 student at Glenbrook Middle School. "We get to sing solos and duets."
"We get to learn different languages," adds Alison.
For the two longtime friends, who now attend different schools, it's also extra fun to come to choir because it's something they can do together.
"I love to sing and Lisa loves to sing, and we can sing together," Alison says. "It's really fun. We just like music a lot."
Rayna Davis, a 12-year-old who's in Grade 7 at Glenbrook, says a big part of the fun of choir is about singing with other people.
"I love coming to choir and getting to sing all these new songs with my friends," she says, adding she loves performing at concerts and festivals.
She adds she likes the songs where she gets to sing something extra. "I like songs where I get to sing more the high parts, the harmony," she explains.
Definitely outnumbered among the girls is Kevin Simpson, a Grade 5 student at John Knox. But the 10-year-old has no problem being one of the small number of boys in Vivo, even though he thinks more boys should definitely join.
"We need some deep voices," he explains.
But that doesn't stop him from enjoying choir practices.
"I like how they teach, and how they divide the kids up in our age groups," he says. "I like chamber choir, how they do all these songs you don't really get to do."
All the kids are quick to give credit to their directors.
"The conductors are, like, really funny and fun," Alison says.
"The directors are really fun and nice," is Rayna's verdict.
The singers are looking forward to another busy season this year, particularly since it's the choir's 10th season. Along with their traditional Christmas concert, Vivo will also be hosting a couple of special events during the year.
In February, the choir will host a B.C. Choral Federation workshop for kids' choirs, culminating in a multi-choir concert at Massey Theatre. Wilson Unger is hoping to see as many as 150 young singers coming to town from around the region, and perhaps from farther afield in the province, to work with a professional clinician and then sing in the joint concert. Then, for the spring concert, the choir is hoping to see many of its alumni return to sing an anniversary concert with the current choir.
Vivo is accepting new members for the 2011/12 season. The choir is open to all children, grades 2 and up, from any location. See www.vivochildrenschoir.ca or email firstname.lastname@example.org.