Martin Taylor Guitar Retreat - Scotland

In association with Shetland Arts and P3 Music

Shetland, Scotland
5-7 November 2014

Learn fingerstyle, jazz and acoustic guitar with Martin Taylor

Guitar Retreat starts in...


Players of all levels and styles are welcome at the Martin Taylor Guitar Retreat on the enchanting Scottish island of Shetland. Whether you’ve been playing for years, or you just know a couple of chords, you'll be able to immerse yourself in learning guitar at this three day guitar retreat with acclaimed guitarist and teacher Martin Taylor. 

From fingerstyle to acoustic to jazz and more, Martin will give you insight into the techniques, styles, and tips to inspire and improve your playing. The retreat is designed to gather guitarists of all levels from around the globe with a common goal - learning, playing, eating and sleeping music.

This is the first time a Martin Taylor Guitar Retreat has been held in Scotland. Don’t miss this chance to spend a week in ruggedly beautiful surroundings, listening to and playing fantastic music. What could be better than a musical holiday where you really learn something and have a great time with like-minded people?

The Martin Taylor Guitar Retreat will take place in Shetland in conjunction with the Shetland International Guitar Festival (6 – 8 November 2014), run by Shetland Arts. The festival will feature a headline concert by Tommy Emmanuel on Thursday 6 November, a headline concert by Martin Taylor on Friday 7 November, and a Saturday night concert of Shetland Guitar Heroes. Retreat students also have the opportunity to play at the Saturday evening of concert with Martin!

During the day you'll learn directly with Martin and every evening you can sit back with a whisky or local handcrafted beer and take part in intimate, once-in-a-lifetime jam sessions. Just bring your guitar, get ready to learn, jam, make friends and have fun!

What Is The Martin Taylor Guitar Retreat About?

The Martin Taylor Guitar Retreat is all about hands-on playing.  This retreat is about helping you achieve REAL RESULTS.

You will leave the retreat with:

  • Improved technique and a new confidence as a guitarist
  • Plenty of exercises to continue to progress your playing
  • New tunes for your repertoire
  • Inspiration and new friends
  • Opportunity to play onstage at the Shetland International Guitar Festival

The Thursday classes will take place in this restored Scottish lighthouse! (picture credit: Frank Bradford)

The Daily Schedule

Tuesday 4th November 2014

03:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Students Arrive

7:30 pm - 10:00pm
3 Course 'Welcome to Shetland' Dinner

Wednesday 5th November 2014

10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Morning Class with Coffee Break @ Mareel

1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Afternoon Class @ Mareel

4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Rest, Relax, Practice, Jam

07:00 pm - 9:00 pm
3 Course Evening Meal

09:00 pm - late
Relax, chat, drink, jam

Thursday 6th November 2014

10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Morning Class with Coffee Break @ Sumburgh Lighthouse

1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Afternoon Class @ Sumburgh Lighthouse

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Rest, Relax, Practice, Jam

06:00 pm - 7:30 pm
3 Course Evening Meal

07:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Tommy Emmanuel Concert @ Mareel

09:30 pm - late
Relax, chat, drink, jam

Friday 7th November 2014

10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Morning Class with Coffee Break @ Mareel

1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Afternoon Class @ Mareel

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Rest, Relax, Practice, Jam

06:00 pm - 7:30 pm
3 Course Evening Meal

07:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Martin Taylor Concert @ Mareel

09:30 pm - late
Relax, chat, drink, jam

Saturday 8th November 2014

10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Day Free for Sightseeing on Island

06:00 pm - 7:30 pm
3 Course Evening Meal

07:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Shetland Guitar Heroes - End of Festival Concert (students invited to play at this - optional)

09:30 pm - late
Relax, chat, drink, jam

Sunday 9th November 2014

10:00 am - 07:00 pm
Students Depart

* times are subject to change

The Location

Visit Shetland at any time of year and you'll be enchanted by the rugged beauty of the landscape. Its dramatically changing colours and textures will take your breath away, and you can always be sure of a great welcome.

Every year, more visitors discover these hundred surprising islands at the top of Britain. Shetland is where Scotland meets Scandinavia; it’s where the North Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. This is where Shetland ponies come from; and the knitted jumpers/sweaters; and the Vikings.

Shetland lies 600 miles (960km) north of London. More than a hundred islands, just 15 of them inhabited, span the hundred miles (145km) between Fair Isle and Out Stack, the northernmost point of Britain. This bustling archipelago of 22,500 people boasts abundant wildlife, a spectacular coastline, dozens of major archaeological sites and more geological diversity than any similar sized area in Europe.

The vast majority of the retreat activities will take place in Mareel in Lerwick, Shetland’s capital. Mareel is the UK’s most northerly music, cinema & creative industries centre. Managed by Shetland Arts Development Agency, Mareel provides a year round programme of live music, education, film, and other performances events. It is a hub and a focus for the creative communities not just in Shetland, but beyond, and a catalyst for the creative industry sector.

Mareel has:

• A live performance auditorium
• Two cinema screens
• Rehearsal rooms
• A recording studio
• A digital media production suite
• Education & training spaces
• Broadcast facilities
• A Cafe Bar
• Free high-speed wifi access

A full day of retreat activities will also take place in Sumburgh Lighthouse. Sumburgh Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in Shetland, and perhaps the most well known. Rising above the precipitous Sumburgh Head cliffs at the southernmost point of mainland Shetland, the Lighthouse is visible from land and sea for miles around.

The Sumburgh Lighthouse, Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve provides an unforgettable visitor experience through the new Marine Life Centre, interpretive materials and access to previously unavailable areas of the site such as the Smithy, Engine Rooms and Radar Huts. The newly built Education Centre with panoramic views out over the cliffs adds a new dimension to the retreat.

The Martin Taylor Guitar Retreat is a chance to indulge your music hobbies while getting a flavour of the real Shetland.

Mareel - the stunning arts centre where the majority of the teaching will take place.

About Martin Taylor

Martin Taylor is a Grammy nominated fingerstyle guitarist, solo jazz guitar virtuoso and online guitar teacher.  Pat Metheny says Martin Taylor is "one of the most awesome solo guitar players in the history of the instrument" while Jeff Beck thinks Taylor "out-shred’s all of us put together….I’ve never seen anything like it".  As one of the world's most popular online guitar teachers and providers of guitar lessons online, Taylor now helps people in over 58 countries learn how to play guitar and become better guitarists.

He has collaborated with the biggest names in guitar music including Tommy Emmanuel, Jeff Beck, Chet Atkins, Frank Vignola, Barney Kessell, Earl Klugh, Herb Ellis, Scotty Moore, Julian Lage, Andreas Oberg, Albert Lee, Ulf Wakenius, Tony McManus, Martin Simpson and Laurence Juber.  In addition to this he has been awarded two honorary doctorates, a BBC lifetime achievement award, an IAJE Jazz Educators award, Top 10 albums in both the USA and UK, a record 14 British Jazz Awards and in 2002 he was appointed MBE 'For Services to Jazz Music' by the Queen of Great Britain. Today his online jazz guitar lessons and fingerstyle guitar videos have been watched by over 1 million guitarists worldwide.

About Shetland Arts

For this retreat Martin has teamed up with Shetland Arts Development Agency (registered charity SCO37082) and the Shetland International Guitar Festival, run by Shetland Arts.

Shetland Arts is the leading arts agency in the Shetland Isles, developing and promoting a year round programme of festivals, music, film, drama, visual arts, craft, and dance events. This programme not only reaches Shetland’s diverse population of 22,500 people living across 15 of the 100+ Shetland Islands, but also engages with the many tourists who visit Shetland each year. Shetland Arts works with arts and commercial organisations in Shetland, the UK, and beyond to deliver its innovative programme and continues to attract national and international attention for its work.

Shetland Arts owns and operates Mareel, the UK's most northerly music, cinema, and creative industries centre. Shetland Arts also owns and operates Bonhoga Gallery in the Weisdale Mill, the UK’s most northerly visual and applied art gallery, and manages the Garrison Theatre in Lerwick, which hosts a year round programme of professional and community events. As well as this, Shetland Arts delivers a range of formal and informal music and other creative industries courses both in and outwith its venues.

About The Shetland International Guitar Festival

The Martin Taylor Guitar Retreat will take place in Shetland in conjunction with the Shetland International Guitar Festival (6 – 8 November 2014), run by Shetland Arts. The festival will feature a headline concert by Tommy Emmanuel on Thursday 6 November, a headline concert by Martin Taylor on Friday 7 November, and a Saturday evening end of festival concert by Shetland Guitar Heroes. Participants on the retreat can book the Retreat Teaching Package, which includes all teaching, lunch, dinner, teas & coffees, and also the Student VIP Festival Package, which includes tickets to all three concerts, a pre-gig reception with drinks, a chance to perform at the festival, & a souvenir pack.

Tommy Emmanuel and Martin Taylor will both play headline shows at the festival

Pictures Of Mareel

Pictures of Sumburgh Lighthouse

View from inside Lighthouse (credit: Frank Bradford)

Aerial view of Lighthouse (credit: Frank Bradford)

Teaching space in Sumburgh Lighthouse

View of Lighthouse (credit: Frank Bradford)

What Martin Will Teach At The Retreat

  • 7 Steps Of Solo Guitar Playing
  • Gypsy Jazz Guitar
  • Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar
  • Jazz Guitar Technique
  • Lead & Rhythm Playing
  • Improvisation
  • Guitar Composition
  • Lots of tunes...


The Queens Hotel sits directly in Lerwick Harbour, worlds apart from any hotel where you may have stayed before. The spirit of relaxed freedom will strike you immediately. The renowned harbour view restaurant has as its backdrop an ever-changing panorama of the island of Bressay. You can watch the drama of the harbour unfold as its mood changes from morning sunrise to evening sunset.

For you to enjoy Shetland cuisine at its best, a skilful team of chefs select from a range of fresh, local produce. Choose local salmon, seafood or lamb from the hillsides of Bressay. Free wireless Internet access is available in most rooms, the public bar areas and the dining room. Shetland Arts is coordinating accommodation bookings.

To book your accommodation, email Shetland Arts direct at [email protected]. Please do not contact the hotel directly.


To cost to attend the Martin Taylor Guitar Retreat in Scotland is only £900. This 'VIP Festival Package' includes:

* All teaching
* All lunches on retreat days
* All dinners on retreat days
* Teas & coffees

As a Retreat registrant you'll also get the Student VIP Package which includes:

* Ticket to Martin Taylor concert
* Ticket to Tommy Emmanuel concert
* Ticket to End of Festival concert
* Pre-gig drinks reception
* Souvenir pack

It gets even better. As a retreat student you also have the opportunity, if you wish, to perform at the 'Shetland Guitar Heroes' End of Festival concert on the Saturday night!

All this for only £900.

Retreat starts in...

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When does the retreat take place.

A. The retreat classes run from the Wednesday morning until the Friday afternoon. The Guitar Festival overlaps the retreat and your retreat ticket will also get you into all the festival concerts on the Thursday (Tommy Emmanuel), Friday (Martin Taylor), and Saturday shows.

Q. Can my partner attend even though they won't participate in the classes.

A. Absolutely, non-participating partners are very welcome and a package will be available for them to purchase at 5pm on Monday 14th July. Just contact [email protected] if you have any questions in the meantime.

Q. Can I rent a guitar?

A. Yes, just contact [email protected] and we'll put you in touch with the local music store in Lerwick.

Q. What about accommodation?

A. The Queens Hotel in the centre of Lerwick and five minutes walk from Mareel is the festival hotel. Shetland Arts is coordinating accommodation bookings and has negotiated discount room rates. Contact Shetland Arts for accommodation costs, either by emailing [email protected] or by phoning 01595 745500.

Q. Who can I contact if I have other questions related to the retreat?

A. Please email [email protected]

Q. Can you accommodate those with dietary issues?

A. We are happy to cater for people with diet issues. Vegetarians and basic diet requirements are included in the price.

Q. Is the venue and accommodation suitable for those with mobility issues?

A. We are not able to accommodate anyone with severe mobility problems. Please get in touch with [email protected] to discuss your particular needs.

Q. How do I get there?

A. You can travel to Shetland either by air or by sea.

By air: Flybe airlines operate daily flights from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness (via Orkney). Visit to check prices and availability. Flights land at Sumburgh airport, on the southernmost tip of Shetland’s mainland, a 40min car/bus journey from Lerwick. The bus timetable is available online here:

Car hire is also available at the airport from Bolts Car Hire or Star Rent a Car

By sea: Northlink Ferries provide a daily car ferry service to/from Aberdeen. They leave Aberdeen at either 5pm (if travelling via Orkney) or at 7pm (direct to Shetland) and arrive in Shetland at 7.30am the following morning in Lerwick. Visit to check prices & availability.

Q. Where do the retreat classes take place?

A. The majority of the classes take place at Mareel in Lerwick (see map below). On the Thursday of the retreat the classes will take place in the stunning education room at the Sumbrugh Lighthouse and transportation will be provided from Lerwick for this.

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