I am standing in a room full of complete strangers. There are around 30 of them and they are all male. The next warm-up exercise we will undertake together consists of belting out the words “Many men, many men, many men men men” to the tune of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”. Though I am in a familiar part of north London, I am some distance away from my comfort zone.
The scientific evidence is overwhelming: doing this will, apparently, promote my general health, happiness and well-being while simultaneously being the best way known to researchers to meet and bond with new people. The most recent study into group singing, published by a team at Oxford University in October, found that because we rarely, if ever, sing together these days, many people – and especially those living in large cities – feel lonely and socially isolated. Book clubs, craft classes, team sports… all good, the researchers concluded, but nothing lubricates the wheels of social cohesion quite like a good singalong.