(blog) Apprenticeships in the Folk & Traditional Arts: John Dujka & Mason Nesvadba, Czech Polka Accordion

 

 The accordion may be referred to as the symbolic instrument of the polka. Particularly in Texas – where the Czech style of polka refers to the massive immigration from the area now known as Czechia (formerly the Czech Republic; formerly Czechoslovakia; formerly Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia) – the music can be heard far and wide at the various church picnics, weddings, and social gatherings. Master Artist John Dujka, a professor of music at the Blinn College campus in Brenham, has been performing at such events for decades as part of the nationally recognized Dujka Brothers. Apprentice Mason Nesvadba, a student at the same college, has been attending Czech dances and church picnics well before he could walk, playing tuba once he was older. But upon his entrance into college, he inherited the accordion used by his great-great uncle, Joe Nesvadba.  “When Joe died,” Mason recalls, “they had that accordion redone…Then they gave it to my grandpa, and it’s been sitting in his closet for the past fifteen or twenty years. And he told me one day, he said, ‘You know, you’re going into music in college. You can have it.’”


     This opportunity led to meeting John Dujka, who has begun teaching the intricacies of Czech polka accordion to Mason. The reception to Mason by the Czech community has been extremely positive, and reflects, as Mason states, the best of the community. “The best part about playing this music, just in general, is all the people you meet, all the friends you make,” he says. “Polka music brings all these people together for one common cause just because everybody loves the music. And when you’re around people like that, it’s just awesome.”


     But the goals of Mason extends well beyond just learning the music. On the path to acquire his music degree from Blinn College, he aims to continue as a school band director. Like John, Mason wants to pass down what he has learned to the next generation of accordion and tuba players. “It’s important to the culture we were born into,” John says on Mason wanting to teach. “It also represents a preservation of the values of family and fellowship…it’s important to keep preserving the things that made life what it was.”

     

     Listen to John Dujka and Mason Nesvadba Perform "Baby Doll Polka" on KULP Radio, Father's Day 2016:


     Watch John Dujka & Mason Nesvadba Perform in Schulenburg at St. John's Parish for the 4th of July church picnic: