The transition from being a non-music playing fan of jambands, indie rock, bluegrass and Americana, to a player and listener of traditional Irish jigs, reels and oldtime fiddle tunes, has changed my whole relationship with music. For the first time in my life, I'm not searching for another band to listen to, at least not in the way I used to. Instead of being a passive listener seeking entertainment - someone who is performed at - music is now something I can provide for myself. I'm not dependent on others to provide music for me. What I need from it and what I get from it is different now.
All music is connected and listening to any music is good practice at some level. When I exhaust my desire to hear another jig or fiddle tune, I tend to seek out additional roots music genres just outside my comfort zone - early jazz and ragtime, jug bands, Norwegian polkas, French Waltzes, contra dance tunes, Jamaican and Latin American folk music. Occasionally it does trickle down to the organic music of The Grateful Dead, Phish and Medeski, Martin and Wood - I value these bands for their sense of improvisation and musical adventure - but I don't have to start there any more.