A Smiffenpoof perspective on Arch Sing

Phoebe Little ‘20
Contributing Writer

Each fall, Smith’s a capella scene is kicked off by Arch Sing. Traditionally held under the Neilson Library Arch, 2017 was the first ever Arch Sing in the Quadrangle. Last Sunday at 8 p.m., all six of Smith’s a capella groups gathered between Cushing and Morrow to sing for the assembled crowd of several hundred students.

Last year, I excitedly watched Arch Sing from a cramped spot towards the back of the crowd. I had learned about the event several days prior when my housemates debated over breakfast how early they should arrive at the event to get good seats. Craning my neck to see the singers, I could clearly tell we hadn’t been early enough. 

It didn’t matter though, the excitement in the air was palpable; with the conclusion of each tune the crowd erupted into applause and people hollered for their friends. At the time, I was unsure if I would join a Smith a capella group. However, by the beginning of last year’s spring semester, I was positive that I wanted to sing a capella. I auditioned for several groups before eventually joining The Smiffenpoofs.

This fall, being on the other side of “the arch” was a challenging, terrifying and ultimately rewarding experience. Each a capella group is challenged with preparing for Arch Sing with only a few weeks of rehearsal and often times with a group that, because of seniors graduating, people going abroad or taking a semester off, look very different than it did the previous semester. 

The Smiffenpoofs, or “The Poofs” as more commonly known, graduated six incredible seniors this past spring and we have one junior who is currently studying abroad. This means that at each pre-Arch Sing rehearsal we were charting unknown territory. 

Many group members learned new song parts they had never before sung to fill the gaps now present in our group, remaining group members are adjusting to their new standing arrangements in the horseshoe and all learning how to successfully perform the responsibilities of their newly elected positions. For me, this looked like switching from soprano 2 to alto 1 on Elizabeth Sinta-Cole’s ’19 arrangement of “Omen” by Sam Smith, learning the ropes of my new position of assistant business manager from our current business manager Annie McCauley ‘19 and spending many hours memorizing, perfecting and choreographing the very silly rap section of our arrangement of Frank Sinatra’s “Softly.” 

When I arrived in the Quad the night of Arch Sing the lawn was quiet except for the buzz of cicadas. I was running a few minutes late to my call time, but before I met the rest of my group in Gardiner House I took a moment to absorb it all — the brick houses lit by the sun that would soon set, the empty lawn that would soon fill with people, the quiet that would soon transform into music. 

All at once I felt nostalgic for the blind excitement, wonder and sense of discovery I felt last year at my first Arch Sing. And I felt almost overwhelmed by my gratitude for this past year at Smith and in the world where I’ve grown and learned so much. I smiled, took a deep breath, a final look around and turned towards Gardiner to join The Poofs and get ready to sing.