Prolific guitarist Jay ‘Bird’ Koder comes to the Big Island to perform, teach up and coming musicians

  • Jay "Bird" Koder will be in Kailua-Kona on Tuesday to teach a guitar workshop and to perform at Gertrude's Jazz Bar on Alii Drive. (Jay "Bird" Koder/Courtesy Photo)

KAILUA-KONA — Jay “Bird” Koder knows the magic ingredient to being a good musician, and he’s willing to share it with the musicians of the Big Island.

“Find a performer you really like and see what is it about him or her that draws you to that artist. And it boils down to character. It’s the way they approach the notes, the music and what they’re thinking,” Koder said. “We’re going to show how you can build positive character traits for yourself to develop your own sound and your own character in your music.”


Koder will be giving this valuable lesson and more at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Gertrude’s Jazz Bar for a guitar workshop with the Oregon-based musician. The workshop coincides with his 7 p.m. performance at the Alii Drive venue following class.

“I’ve taught music pretty much as long as I’ve played it because, for me, the teaching process and the learning process are the same thing,” Koder said. “I really only know something when I can explain it clearly to someone else. So teaching is something I do to stay fresh and to keep growing as an artist.”

Koder’s long career of learning and teaching music has taken him all over the globe performing alongside musicians well-known in the jazz, blues and rock spheres. He listed the Steve Miller Band, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock as his personal music heroes who he’s been able to perform with.

Before his performance on the Big Island, Koder has been back home in Oregon recording classical music with the Oregon Symphony.

He will be playing the wide variety of genres he has mastered over the years at his Big Island concert.

“To me, there’s only two kinds of music,” Koder said. “There’s good music and not so good music, and I’ve always focused on the former and have tried to avoid the latter, if I can.”

Koder became a musician when he started playing piano at the age of 4, and switched to guitar after being influenced by groups such as The Beatles and the record label Motown.

“I never thought of it as a career, it was just something I was drawn to. It was like this invisible ball of energy that I was chasing after,” Koder said. “It was always right out in front of me, and I’m still pursuing it.”

Koder has been drawn to play in Hawaii several times in his career, and he said he enjoys it every time.


“There’s just magic in the air over there. It’s that island magic. It’s amazing,” Koder said. “There’s a spirit to the music when you play up there, especially outdoor performances. There’s great people there, people are more chill there, they are there to have a good time and relax. They are more open to appreciating things of the arts.”

Info: Tickets to Jay “Bird” Koder’s guitar workshop and performance can be purchased at

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